Last Updated: June 30, 2021
What is FAFSA?
The FAFSA or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid is a form filled out by students who require financial aid
from the government. Candidates who require financial assistance and are applying for the Federal Student Aid
will be required to complete the form providing a lot of personal information in order to receive the said benefits. It is done by students who are applying for both undergraduate and graduate courses in the United States. This form is free of cost and can be filled using various methods.
This form is different from that of the CSS Profile offered by the College Board which requires a certain amount of payment and is generally asked for by private institutions. National and State funding for educational expenses is the most sought out option by candidates due to the various options available for the kind of financial aid that might suit them. The FAFSA is also used as a basic method of calculating one’s financial need by other prominent scholarships
While candidates might believe that receiving federal student aid is beyond them, by filling out the FAFSA form, they are opening themselves up to opportunities for a federal loan, merit-based scholarships, and even work-study options at universities they have enrolled in. Therefore, it is highly advisable that candidates enrolling for their college admission fill out the FAFSA form whether or not they have other options at hand for funding their education.
Eligibility Criteria for FAFSA
There is no proper criteria for filling out the FAFSA form. But the eligibility criteria that students have to cross-check before filling out this form is that of the Federal Student Aid
. Ultimately, filling out the form, by default, means that the candidate is applying for Federal Aid, and this has a specific set of basic requirements. The requirements are as follows-
- Candidate must be a US citizen, US National, or an eligible non-citizen.
- Candidate, if male and between the age group of 18 and 25, must register at the Selective Service System unless specified otherwise.
- Candidate must have a valid Social Security Number
- Candidate must have a high school diploma or its equivalent
- Candidate must not be found guilty of selling or possessing illegal drugs. If found guilty even after qualifying for the grant, they will be automatically stripped of the privilege.
- Candidate must maintain a Satisfactory Academic Progress
Filling the FAFSA Form
In order to fill the FAFSA form, candidates will have to create an FSA ID by creating a username and password. Filling the form electronically is one of the most recommended methods. Candidates are required to visit the official fafsa.gov website and create their FAFSA ID by entering their name and social security number. Once this is done, they will be able to start the application as a student and provide more personal information.
If the candidate is still dependent on their parents, their parents will be able to create an account for them. They will be required to sign on behalf of the candidate. There are different methods through which candidates can fill out the FAFSA form. The three options that are available are-
- Candidates will be able to fill the FAFSA form online by visiting the official website.
- Candidates can download the myStudentAid mobile app and fill the form.
- Candidates can download the pdf format of the latest version of the FAFSA form and mail it for processing.
- Candidates can call 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) or 334-523-2691 to procure the FAFSA form offline and then mail it for processing.
Content in the FAFSA Form
The main content that candidates will be required to fill in the FAFSA form is their personal information. This will include details ranging from their name, date of birth, and social security number to the financial information of their parent/guardian. The financial information that the candidate has to provide will be details regarding both taxed and untaxed income along with the information pertaining to the tax returns of the parent. Candidates will also have to provide information regarding the cash savings and account balance both they and their parents have at the time of registration.
It will be best for candidates to have the following information ready before they start to fill out the form-
- Social Security Number of the Student and the Parent (if dependent).
- Driver’s License Number, if any.
- Alien Registration Number, if the candidate is not a US citizen
- Federal Tax Information
- Record of Untaxed Income- including child support, interest income, veteran’s non-education benefits, etc.
- Information of Cash-Savings and Account Balance- including stocks, bonds, real estate, business, and farm assets.
Once this is done, candidates will be required to provide a list of Colleges or Career Schools
that they want the information to be sent to. They will be able to add as many as 10 institutions in all. This must be the list of institutions the candidate wishes to enroll in or has already applied to.
Completing the Application Process of the FAFSA
In order to complete the application process, candidates will have to sign the form with their FSA ID. Once the confirmation page is visible, candidates will receive an email confirming their submission if they had already provided their email id. It is advisable to print out the confirmation page or saving it for future reference before exiting the site. This is mainly because the document that is emailed will not contain information regarding college graduation, retention, and transfer rates.
Checking the Status of the FAFSA Form
Once the confirmation email has been received, candidates must check the status of the application immediately. This will be available in their FSA account and can be checked if the candidate logs in to their account. Candidates will be able to check the status of their application through the myStudentAid
app as well if they log in with their FSA ID and password. The status of the application will be shown as one of the following-
- Processing- This status will be shown right after the candidate has submitted the form and will continue to be there until the application has been accepted without errors or until any errors have been found in the form.
- Processed Successfully- This status implies that the details the candidates provided have been verified successfully and that the candidate will be receiving their Student Aid Report shortly.
- Missing Signature- This status implies that the form filled and submitted by the candidate does not contain their signature. It could either be because the candidate has not provided their signature or because the signature had not been uploaded when the candidate submitted the form.
- Action Required- This status implies that there are errors in the form submitted by the candidate. This could be the absence of certain details in the form or because the data provided by the candidate is wrong. The candidate will have to edit the details and resubmit the FAFSA form if this status is shown in their FSA account.
Reviewing the FAFSA Form
After successfully processing the FAFSA form, candidates will receive a Student Aid Report or SAR
within 3 to 21 days. It is important that the personal details mentioned in the SAR are accurate. At this stage, candidates will be allowed to make changes to the information if there are any. The SAR will not contain any information regarding the amount of financial aid the candidate will receive. This amount will be calculated only by the schools that the candidate has applied to and will be sent to the candidate in a paper or electronic medium.
The report will also contain the EFC
which is the Expected Family Contribution of the candidate. This is calculated through the financial information provided by the candidate and is the money the family of the candidate or the candidate themselves will be able to contribute for their education. The amount in the EFC will be the deciding factor on the amount of financial aid the candidate is eligible for.
Correcting the FAFSA Form
Candidates will be allowed to make corrections to the report after the report has been processed. This can be done both online and offline and depends on the convenience of the candidate. The process is generally done by signing in to the FSA ID of the candidate. It is important that the candidate makes only a limited number of errors since most of the information on the report cannot be altered.
The process involved is, to log in with the FSA ID and then click on the My FAFSA page. There will be an option for Make FAFSA Corrections where the candidate will be able to make the changes. Now, they will be able to change the updatable information and submit the new information. After entering the corrections and updates, candidates will be required to sign and mail this to the address provided on the SAR.
Renewing the FAFSA Form
It is necessary that candidates renew their FAFSA form annually if they need to continue receiving their grant. The process involved in renewing the FAFSA form begins with the candidate logging in with their FSA Id and password at the official website. The information provided during the last time the candidate applied will be prefilled in the form. The candidate will be able to make the necessary changes and provide the financial information that is required. They will be able to sign the form and submit it for a FAFSA renewal. Candidates who want to renew their form can either apply all over again or choose to renew their existing form according to their convenience.