FAFSA - Free Application for Federal Student Aid (New and improved in 2023 -- 0pens Dec. 1
Financial Aid – a definition…
Financial aid is money to help pay for college. It comes from the federal and state governments, colleges and universities, banks, and organizations. Applying for financial aid is a separate process from applying for admission to a college.
To receive financial aid, you must apply for it using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), https://fafsa.ed.gov/. The FAFSA is for US Citizens and eligible non-citizens (non-citizen categories can be found here: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/eligibility/non-us-citizens). The FAFSA requires students to have a valid Social Security Number. It can be filed by U.S. citizens or U.S. nationals, U.S. permanent residents (those with a green card), and some non-residents. Please check the Federal Student Aid website (https://studentaid.gov/help/eligible-noncitizen) to see if you are eligible. Students granted refugee status are eligible to file the FAFSA. Colleges use the results of students’ FAFSA to create a financial aid package.
Students with the College Bound Scholarship must file their FAFSA or WASFA as close to October 1 (Dec. 1 in 2023) of their senior year to receive maximum financial assistance.
Federal student aid includes:
- Grants—financial aid that doesn’t have to be repaid (unless, for example, you withdraw from school and owe a refund, or you do not meet grade/enrollment requirements)
- Loans— borrowed money for college or career school; you must repay your loans, with interest
- Work-Study—a work program through which you earn money to help you pay for school
FAFSA is the most important document that a student needs to be eligible for financial aid from state, federal and school levels. Many schools will not award school scholarships/aid unless the FAFSA is completed. It is recommended that you complete your FAFSA in October (or as close to October as you can) to ensure you do not miss any college deadlines and receive the best financial package (financial aid is given out on a first-come, first-served basis). However, each college has their own priority filing deadline. For students planning to attend a Washington State college/university, it is recommended that you file your FAFSA before January 15th – you may still apply after January 15th, but the amount of money schools have to distribute begins to be given at their priority filing deadline. It would be good for you to have your FAFSA completed once funds begin to be allocated. Community colleges require FAFSA applications to be submitted by March, of your senior year.
Need help filing your FAFSA?
WATCH THIS RECOMMENDED VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wtrxGJ8o-o
- More video help is available from Federal Student Aid tips.
Not convinced you should file the FAFSA? Here are some articles for you to check out.
- Worried that you won't qualify for aid? You might be surprised.
- ARTICLE: Busting Myths about Federal Aid
- ARTICLE: Why you should fill out the FAFSA ASAP