FAFSA: Apply for Aid Understanding College Financial Aid

Earning a college degree is one of the best investments you can make in your future. College graduates may have many more opportunities available to them and, on average, the earning potential of a college graduate exceeds the earnings potential of without a degree. Think about it from an employers prospective: if you were choosing a job candidate from a stack of 100's of resumes, who would make it to the top of the stack?

It's crucial for you as the student or parent to understand the process of student financial aid to make sure you explore all the options available to you. The options begin with a FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid. All students are expected to contribute towards the cost of their college education. Just how much depends on your financial situation and the financial situation of your family. This is referred to as the Expected Family Contribution or EFC.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is the form that the Department of Education uses to evaluate and determine the EFC (Expected Family Contribution). Therefore, your process for determining how you will fund your (your child's) education starts by filling out a FAFSA. The analysis that is then performed by the Dep't of Education is based upon your assets, income and other household information. You need to only fill out the FAFSA one time and the Department of Education will communicate directly with the College(s) and University(s) of your choice. You can list these on your application so that the application is transmitted directly to these schools. The FAFSA is the standard that nearly all colleges and universities use to determine eligibility for federal, state, and college-sponsored financial aid which includes loans and GRANTS.

Types of Student Financial Aid
The cost of education continues to rise. Therefore, figuring out how you're going to finance your education can see like a tough task. The good news is that nearly every student is eligible for some type of financial aid regardless of your income circumstances. If you qualify, the options available may include:

  • Federal Pell Grants
  • Stafford Loan
  • Parent Plus loan

FAFSA Eligibility
To be eligible for some form of student financial aid, you must:
  • be a U.S. citizen or an eligible Non-U.S. citizen
  • have a valid Social Security number
  • have a high school diploma or a GED
  • be registered with the U.S. Selective Service (if you are a male between the ages of 18-25)
  • complete a FAFSA promising to use any federal aid for educational purposes only
  • not owe refunds on any student loans
  • have not been found guilty of the sale or possession of illegal drugs during a period in which federal aid was being received

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