The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is required by ALL colleges and universities in determining eligibility for all federal, state, and most institutional financial aid programs. In January of a student’s senior year, college-bound students and their parents need to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA, as the name states, is a FREE application which everyone should file. Students cannot be evaluated for need-based financial aid funds (including grants, loans, and work programs) unless a FAFSA is filed. As a result, it is highly recommended that everyone file the FAFSA, even if you are unsure of your eligibility.
You can file the FAFSA online by visiting the Federal Student Aid site at www.fafsa.ed.gov ~ this online process is the quickest and most streamlined of the FAFSA filing options made available by the U.S. Department of Education.
First step: Create a FSA ID
Your FSA ID is a username and password that identifies you as someone who has the right to access your own personal information on ED websites such as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) at fafsa.gov.
If you are a parent of a dependent student, you will need your own FSA ID if you want to sign your child’s FAFSA electronically. If you have more than one child attending college, you can use the same FSA ID to sign all applications. Please note: Each FSA ID user must have a unique e-mail address. Both students and their parent/guardian need a FSA ID before filing a FAFSA
What is a Student Aid Report?
After filing the FAFSA, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR), which is essentially a confirmation of, and summary of, what you reported on the FAFSA. If you provide an email address when you file your FAFSA, the Student Aid Report (SAR) will be emailed to you within a few days after completing the FAFSA. If you do not provide an email address, then the Student Aid Report (SAR) will be mailed to you via traditional mail delivery and can take up to three weeks or more to receive.
The Student Aid Report (SAR) also includes what is referred to as your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is the calculated amount, determined by the information submitted on the FAFSA, that the family will be expected to contribute towards the annual cost of education.
While the family receives the Student Aid Report (SAR) directly, the colleges will receive the processed FAFSA information electronically which will remain part of the student’s financial aid record.
The FAFSA is a standardized application which utilizes a formula entitled “Federal Methodology” to analyze a family’s income and asset information to determine their eligibility for federal financial aid.
REMEMBER! Everyone needs to file a FAFSA to be considered for federal, state, and institutional need-based financial aid programs!
Please see the resources below which will help you complete the FAFSA and hopefully answer any additional questions that you may have.
FAFSA Step By Step Guide – a handy guide that answers questions about the FAFSA and the related Student Aid Report (SAR).
FAFSA4Caster – a handy online tool to calculate an estimated Expected Family Contribution (EFT), a factor in the financial aid process.