One of the first things that you want to do after you decide you’re going to college is to apply for FAFSA.
FAFSA is the application for you to apply for federal student aid which can mean federal grants work-study and loans. FAFSA stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
There is usually a date that it is due by in order for you to get the most money that you can.
You definitely want to fill it out as soon as you possibly can. Now, don’t fill it out before you have all the information that you need, just fill it out as soon as you can to the best of your ability.
The information that you fill out on your FAFSA form is very important to how much money in grants and loans you are eligible to receive. It is also important to understand that in most cases in order to receive any scholarships from your high school, university, and other external scholarship committees you are going to have to fill out this form.
Many scholarships actually require your FAFSA paperwork in order to award your scholarship.
Most of the basic questions that students and parents have will be about finances and how it can affect the outcome of the number of grants and loans you will be able to receive.
Of course, this is all figured out by the federal government, but there are some basics that you need to understand in order to help you to determine how much money you may receive.
Just as long as you fill out the FAFSA form right you should have some idea of the amount of money you may receive.
The FAFSA4caster is a free tool you can use to estimate federal student aid eligibility.
No matter how much money you or your parents may have, it is in your best interest to fill out FAFSA no matter what. You never know if some different scholarships and loans that you are looking into may require that you have FAFSA filled out.
Basic Eligibility Criteria for FAFSA
Our general eligibility requirements are that you must
- You must show financial need. (Not all program but most will use this) Financial need is considered the difference between the cost of going to college and what is your expected family contribution.
- You need to be a US citizen or eligible noncitizens such as refugee, asylum granted, T-visa holder and a few others.
- You have to have a valid social security number
- Must be registered with selective service if you are a male (Register between 18 and 25 years old)
- Have to be enrolled or at least accepted for enrollment as a student in an eligible certificate or degree program
- The Direct Loan program you must be enrolled half-time to be eligible
- You need to be meeting educational requirements towards graduation in college or career school
- You must sign the certification statement on the FAFSA stating that
- You are not in default on any federal student grants or loans
- You will use the federal student aid only for educational purposes
- You are not in default on any federal student grants or loans
- You have to show you are qualified to obtain a college or career school education by
- Have a GED or High School diploma
- If homeschooled you must show completion of high school and the setting must have been approved under state law
- Or enroll in an eligible career pathway program and meeting one of the “ability to benefit” alternatives
- Have a GED or High School diploma
Salary/ Business Owner
The main thing that FAFSA is going to look at is the annual salary of your parents or guardians. Even if you have a part-time job at something like a grocery store or restaurant, they are still going to require you to include how much money you have made in the past year.
It is important to understand that all of the information that FAFSA requires of you was going to be from the last tax form you have. So when I was filling out FAFSA for the 2019 2020 school year, I was using all of the information from the year of 2018.
The reason for this is because in order to fill out all of the required information you have to have received your taxes from the previous year. And according to the FAFSA due date, it would not be possible for you to have your taxes back from the 2019 year before turning in your 2019 to 2020 FAFSA.
If you own your own business you might have to go about putting your salary down a little bit differently. This is because of the way that your salary and taxes work or a little bit different than people who work for companies.
The form should explain to you how to do all of this so that you can get the most money while still filling in the information correctly. As long as you follow the rules and guidelines you should have no issues.
However, it is important to understand that if you lie in any sort of way you can get audited by FAFSA and end up receiving no money at all. Because of this, it is definitely not worth it to try and lie and cheat your way into getting more money.
There are many people that I know that have got audited by FAFSA and end up not receiving any financial aid in general.
They are very particular about following the rules and guidelines.
My parents got a divorce and my mother changed her last name. Because of this, I’ve had to fill out a bunch of extra forms for FAFSA.
Basically, I had to do a lot of extra work to fill out my FAFSA for this year just because my mom simply changed her last name. If they go this far when it comes to just changing the last name, imagine how far they would go if you’re lying about how much money you’re making or what you own.
Just be honest and follow all the rules and guidelines so you can properly receive the amount of aid that you deserve.
Another key thing that you should focus on is your parents and your own savings accounts. If you have a lower salary but very high amount saved in your savings account they may not give you as much money as you would think.
This is because they’re assuming that you can use a lot of the saved money to pay for college.
This honestly makes sense and gives room to give money to people who have no savings at all. You definitely have to be honest about this because they will look into it.
When it comes to savings this also means that they will look at how much Social Security you have. Obviously, Social Security is a lot different than your savings account but it is still money that is yours.
You may receive Social Security money for many different things, however, most of the time they always include this entire amount in your overall amount of money that you have to put towards college.
Most of the time, if you are receiving Social Security as a child, they are assuming that you’re going to be using all of this money on something like college tuition.
The restrictions of what you can use it on vary. So, one of the main things is definitely college.
Either way, you have to tell the truth about all of these things and make sure that you include any sort of savings that you have. This means even the savings that you have as a high school student.
Marital Status/ Child Support
Another main factor is your parents marital status. If your parents are divorced you will only have to put down the financial information from your resident parent. For instance, if you live with your mom, then you only have to put down your mom’s financial information, not your fathers.
However, if your mom is married then you have to put all the financial information from your mom and her spouse. This can really make a big difference in how much you receive because you are only putting one parent’s salary down which is a lot lower than two parents.
This also goes along with if you are unemployed. If your parents are unemployed, you may be eligible for more money because they do not have a salary other than what they get from the government.
You also will have to put down any sort of child support or alimony that your resident parent receives.
If you’re ever in doubt and want to talk about different housing in a marital situation, feel free to call FAFSA or the student aid office at your actual university. They are always willing to help you and usually have all the right answers.
Even if your parents are not actually divorced yet and are just separated and living in different homes, you still have to file that on your FAFSA. Normally it only counts if they are actually living in separate houses and you have addresses to prove that.
This situation is similar to divorced parents, you will put all of the information of the person that you were living with. It can be a hassle, but this is what I had to put and it actually ends up benefiting me in the end.
If you are emancipated or a graduate student you will be filling out FAFSA with only your information and no one else’s. The only other way you would be adding someone else’s information is if you are married. Once you get married, you will no longer have to put anything down about your parents, at this point you only put you and your spouse’s information.
You also have to put down any sort of possessions that you or your parents have. This might include things like houses, properties, bonds, stocks, etc. Basically, they just wanna know what type of financial standing you and your family are in at the time of filling out the FAFSA.
If you do not own anything, and you don’t have any savings this will let them know that you are probably in need of more financial help than others. If you don’t actually own a home and you are simply renting, FAFSA knows that you may need more help than others. These are just the types of things that they use to see who needs more financial help than others.
If you are looking for a free early estimate on federal student aid eligibility try out FAFSA4caster. It’s a free tool to use to help plan for college.
To sign up for FAFSA go to FAFSA apply for aid.
Overall, there are many different things are going to figuring out how much FAFSA money you get. As long as you’re honest about everything that you have and own, you should have no problem.
Although it is frustrating that sometimes you may not receive any money, just know that they are really trying to do everything in the best interest of everyone who is applying.
There are so many people who are trying to go to college who have no help and are in really bad family situations. Luckily, these are the people that are going to be getting the most help from FAFSA, so think about them even if you don’t receive as much as you would like.
I hope this helped you and I wish you the best of luck with filling out your fast for in your future college endeavors.