FAFSA Student Loans – Financial Aid 101

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by Max Hargis

It is essential for every student to fill in the FAFSA or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This can help in assessing whether the student qualifies for any financial aid. The school can offer any financial aid package including grants, work study programs, scholarships and even loans, only if the FAFSA form has been submitted.

Various types of information will be collected on the FAFSA. Personal informatidon such as social security number, date of birth, and contact information is required. Expect to answer questions about income, living arrangements, school enrollment, education level and the like.

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These details will be based on your parents’ income, if you are below the age of 21. There is some exclusion to this point, for which it’s best if you clarify with a financial aid advisor or check on the website.

To help with answering the questions, you’d need copies of either your income tax returns or of your parents, and perhaps also details about any bank accounts that generate interest income.

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Wherever necessary you may choose to make corrections. But it is much better if you are aware of all details and know the correct answers. To this end, ensure that all the details and related documents are ready for you to cross check. Most importantly, make it a point that you submit the application before the deadline, which can differ for your school from that of the Government. It is best to keep a check on this.

The application can be submitted in either of two ways. First is by filling in the form and sending by post. Second option is to submit online. If you choose the latter, you will need to create an account, after which you will be given access to an auto-generated PIN. You can choose to access this PIN either online or get it posted to you. You don’t necessarily have to fill the form in one go. You can save information that you have filled and come back to proceed further. To acknowledge your application submission you will receive a unique reference number and an email confirming the receipt of the application.

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The details that you share in the FAFSA form, will help in deciphering the estimated family contribution or EFT. When the EFT is above 0, you will be required to bear a portion of the tuition costs. However, if the EFT is 0, then you are not required to bear any of your tuition costs. It is advisable to submit the FAFSA even if a student is not qualified for either state or federal grants. The process will help the student in obtaining any loans or applying for scholarships.

Once the FAFSA results are declared, the school will contact the student if any further details are required to support the application, such as tax returns copy, W-2, or any other financial or personal details. This procedure is known as verification which is not done for all students. Once this procedure has finished, the student can be granted financial assistance.

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