When the Free Application for Financial Student Aid (FAFSA) was released on January 1, many families started scratching their heads about when and how to complete this all-important form for student aid. Families with a high school senior may be completing this form for their first time. Here are a few things you should know about FAFSA:
- It’s FREE! – therefore, you have nothing to lose but an hour or two of your time.
- The resulting calculations of FAFSA determine federal sources and institutional awards – Even if you think you will not qualify, there is no penalty for applying and you may be pleasantly surprised. (I’ve seen these surprises every year!)
- FAFSA assumes no student contribution and calculation uses the federal standard of living guidelines
A state-wide initiative begun several years ago is the National College Goal Sunday event. In 2012, the event is being held on Sunday, February 12. Families of current high school seniors can visit this website to find out the locations near them. This event is an opportunity for students and families to get free, on-site professional assistance filling out the FAFSA. Again, many families do not complete the FAFSA because they believe they wouldn’t be approved for any assistance. Many colleges will determine institutional awards based on FAFSA. Therefore, if you do not qualify for the federal funds then the college may very well determine that they will offer an institutional award.
For more considerations on paying for college, please see our recent posting here on where to find the money for college!