What students need to know about FAFSA

What is FAFSA?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an application which students must fill out to receive any student aid from the federal government.

Who should fill out FAFSA and when?

Prospective college students applying for federal student aid can begin filling out the FAFSA starting Oct 1.

According to college and career counselor Deborah Wanner, all students applying to colleges and universities should fill out the FAFSA regardless of financial need, and the sooner they do so the better. Even if students are not seeking federal student aid, many universities require the FAFSA in order to calculate private aid and scholarships.

What information is necessary to fill out FAFSA?

Applicants must create a Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID) and parents must create a separate ID. Next, students can begin filling out the FAFSA. Students will be asked to provide a variety of information, including social security number, tax information, income records, savings/checking account balance, driver’s license number and a list of schools they are interested in attending. Dependent students (anyone under 24) should use their parent’s financial information when filling out the FAFSA.

How is the amount of aid calculated?

The FSA then determines the amount a student’s family is expected to contribute towards their tuition and subtracts this from the total cost of college attendance in order to determine the amount of aid necessary.

Should I be concerned about providing financial information?

The FSA website is completely secure.  “There’s nothing to be worried about,” Wanner said. “A lot of student’s families feel anxiety about giving that information on the computer, but they shouldn’t because this is a federal website, so hopefully that will ease some anxiety.”