What is FAFSA?
If the thought of applying for financial aid makes you want to pull your hair out, you are not alone. Many people view the FAFSA, a central element in the financial aid process, as a complicated puzzle. Fortunately, filling out the FAFSA is not as difficult as you may think, and this infographic is here to help you navigate the process. So relax and let the FAFSA help you achieve your educational goals.
Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is often perceived as a complicated endurance test by many students. However, this is not necessarily the case.
Before sitting down to fill out the form, students should assemble the various paperwork they will need in order to submit their application, such as their social security number, driving license or state-issued ID, plus W-2 forms for the previous year. Applicants will also need records of any untaxed income such as social security benefits, welfare payments or veteran’s assistance income.
Once they have assembled all of their documentation, applicants will need to create an account on the FAFSA website. Some students may find completing the form in shorter sessions to be more manageable. Individuals will be prompted to create a unique PIN to access their information later.
The next, and possibly most important, step of the process is determining an applicant’s eligibility for financial support. Candidates may be required to demonstrate that they have earned their high school diploma or GED, as well as maintained a specific grade point average. At this stage, applicants will be prompted to select which schools they wish to provide with the results of their FAFSA application. Once college selections have been made, candidates will select off-campus, since they will be applying for online degree programs.
After this stage, applicants will be required to determine if they are a dependent or independent. This is based on whether the candidate is 24 years of age or older, married or single, if they have any children under the age of 18, serving in the armed forces, enrolled in a master’s or PhD program, and whether the applicant’s parents are deceased.
Next, applicants will submit their financial information. Accuracy of this data is crucial, as it determines how much funding an individual is entitled to. Candidates may wish to have someone else check their figures before submitting the form.
At this point, certain grants may be offered. If so, applicants should complete any additional requests for information. However, if no grants are offered, this does not reflect on an individual’s eligibility for financial aid, and applicants should continue to the next step.
Now, candidates must sign the form using either the PIN from the second stage, or by printing, signing and mailing their application. It is faster to use the PIN to sign the form digitally. With the hard part out of the way, applicants should await their Student Aid Report, which will outline how much aid they are eligible for.