According to the Education Data Initiative, the average cost of attending a four-year public university has increased by more than 179% over the past 20 years. Financial aid is an important aid for many students who wish to continue their education.
Scholarships, grants, work studies, and loans are just some of the options that are within reach for students taking their first steps toward earning a degree or trade certification.
The best way to find them is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
What is the FAFSA?
The Ministry of Education’s FAFSA is an essential resource when looking for school fees.
Each year, the Department of Education provides more than $120 billion in grants, loans and funds for work studies through the FAFSA process. Many schools use FAFSA data to allocate their own tuition, including scholarships.
What are the requirements for applying for FAFSA?
To be eligible for federal government financial aid, you must:Have obtained a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) certificate Enrolled or accepted in an eligible diploma or certificate program Enrolled in the Selective Service (male students aged 18-25) Have a valid Social Security number Sign a statement that you are not default on a federal student loan Be a US citizen or have a permanent resident (green) card with supporting documentation
Once enrolled, you must also maintain “satisfactory academic progress” in college or vocational training. Schools define satisfying progress differently. Ask your school’s financial aid department how they determine if you meet educational requirements and are on track to graduate on time, to make sure you stay clear.
While income is taken into account, higher income doesn’t automatically stop you from getting federal student finance.
Which FAFSA should I complete?
If you have never applied for financial aid for educational benefits, you may be confused by all the abbreviations and the process. The simple answer is that there is only one FAFSA form for each year. You can find it at studentaid.gov.
If you’re not sure what year to fill out the form for (especially if you’re going to school in the summer), check with your school’s finance department.
When should the FAFSA be filed?
Each school, state, and trade school has its own financial aid deadlines, but the FAFSA is updated on October 1 of each year. You must complete the FAFSA during your admission process and then re-fill it every year.Do I have to complete the FAFSA every year?
Yes. To be eligible for financial aid, you must complete a new FAFSA each year.
To be eligible for federal student grants for the 2021-2022 award year, you must submit your FAFSA by June 30, 2022.Why do I need to file the FAFSA early?
Figuring out how to pay for your education should be one of your first steps in planning it. Due to the variation in state and university deadlines, you should complete the FAFSA form as soon as possible after October 1 to ensure you don’t miss out on available help. If you are considering multiple universities, the extra time can help you compare costs and available help for each university.
Ways to submit your FAFSA
You can submit your FAFSA in three ways: three submission options available to you:Electronic Form Mail-in Application (Download from FAFSA.gov or call 1-800-433-3243 to request one by mail Electronic submission from your college or vocational school. If you are completing your FAFSA with the help of a Financial Aid Officer from the school, your school can file your FAFSA for you.
How to complete the FAFSA
Creating a Federal Student Aid ID allows you to electronically sign your FAFSA® form.
You can sign up for your FSA ID on the FAFSA website.
You should have some documentation on hand to complete the FAFSA’s questions about you and your financial situation.
What you need to complete the FAFSA:Social Security Number Alien Registration Number (if not a US citizen) Investments other than the home you live in Cash, savings, and checking balances Federal tax information or tax returns
You can use the Internal Revenue Service Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) to automatically retrieve and transfer your personal tax information to the FAFSA form. To do this, click the “Link to IRS” button in the Finance section of your electronic FAFSA)
To miss something? That’s fine. You can start the FAFSA, save your progress and come back later to fill in more information.List of colleges and/or vocational schools
While filling out the FAFSA form, you must list between one and ten schools to receive your FAFSA information.Report your parents’ details. The FAFSA form asks a series of questions that determine whether you are a dependent or independent student. To be considered a dependent student you must: Be 24 years of age or older Be married Be a graduate or professional student Be a current or experienced military member Be an orphan, emancipated minor or ward of the court Be homeless (or risk of becoming homeless) Have legal dependents.
If none of these apply, you are a dependent student. That means you must include your parents’ information on your FAFSA form. An easy way to do this is to ask your parents to register for their own FSA ID. Then they can log in and fill in their details.
How Your Military Affiliation May Affect FAFSA Applications:
If you are a military or veteran, you are considered an independent student and may be eligible for increased financial aid.
What happens if I make a mistake on my FAFSA?
The Department of Education will let you know via email or post if they have found any errors with your FAFSA. If you realize you made a mistake that FAFSA failed to notice, you can correct your electronic form.
To make changes, log in to fafsa.gov and enter your FSA ID. On the ‘My FAFSA’ page, select ‘Make FAFSA corrections’. Make sure to save your changes.
How long does it take for the FAFSA to be fully processed?
If you submitted the FAFSA electronically, you should receive an email within three to five days stating that your FAFSA has been processed, according to the Department of Education.
If you sent a paper FAFSA, processing can take up to 10 days depending on postal delays. Also pay attention to emails from your school – they may email you to request additional information.
What Happens After I Submit My FAFSA?
Depending on your school, you may automatically receive a financial aid offer (or grant letter). If you don’t hear anything within a few days, please contact your school’s student support center to see if you need to take additional steps to receive your prize package.
Your financial aid offer or award letter may include grants, grants, work-study opportunities, or student loans — or a combination of these options.
Understanding Student Loans
Your school’s financial aid offer may include student loans.
Remember that a student loan is just like any other loan. You will have to pay it back with interest. Pay attention to the terms of your loan and the options for the repayment plan and never let your loan default. If you ignore your loan or fail to meet the repayment terms, the lender may take action against you to collect the money, including garnishment of wages. Please contact your credit manager for more information about your repayment obligations.
If you are a service member and need to use a student loan (or have had previous student loans), remember that you can get limited interest rates, no interest accrual, and student loan deferments under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.
For more information, please contact your lender.
FAFSA Considerations for Military Members, Veterans and Families
Service members, veterans, and military families have access to additional financial assistance.
The federal government and nonprofit organizations provide college funding to veterans, prospective military personnel, active-duty personnel, and their families. You may find some of these through the FAFSA.
If you have lost a loved one who served in Iraq or Afghanistan after 9/11, you can get help through the Federal Pell Grant. The Expected Family Contributions (EFC) section on your FAFSA determines your eligibility for a Pell Grant. If your parent or guardian has died in military service, your EFC will be calculated at zero.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) also provides education benefits for veterans, their widows, and dependents.
Other ways the military can pay for college
Reserve Officer Training Corps programs at more than 1,000 U.S. colleges offer merit scholarships.
Here you will find more information.
For those currently in the ranks, check with your education office. If you’re considering enlisting in the military and want to learn more about educational benefits, talk to a recruiter.
Tuition eligibility and amounts vary by service component, but this is another way to supplement your education costs if you qualify.
Note that the National Guard can provide additional tuition assistance through state programs.
FHow does the VA calculate the benefits after 9/11?
Tips to save time at the FAFSA
Filling out your FAFSA electronically is the best way to save time. You can use IRS tools to fill out your tax information, and parents can log in to help dependent students in some sections. Processing is also faster as you don’t have to worry about postal delays.
You can also download the myStudentAid app from the App Store (iOS) or Google Play (for Android devices).
The app allows you to quickly view updates and make corrections to your application without having to sit in front of a computer.
Be sure to review your application with a financial counselor at your school to ensure you have completed it completely and accurately.
This post FAFSA Guide for Military Members and Families was original published at “https://themilitarywallet.com/fafsa-guide/”