What Is a FAFSA Grant?
By Holly Schoch
, last updated December 22, 2011
For anybody interested in attending college, the FAFSA, which stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid, will be an extremely useful tool when it comes to paying for college. FAFSA is available to prospective college students, both undergraduate and graduate, within the United States. This form of financial aid isn't available to just anybody who wishes to go back to school. There are a number of different qualifications that determine whether or not a student will end up receiving federal aid. The reason FAFSA is so useful is because it doesn't determine whether or not a student is eligible for one loan or grant, but instead determines his/her eligibility for student aid in general. Through the FAFSA, a student can gain access to Pell grants, work-study programs, as well as financial aid from the university or college of which they are applying. In total, there are around 9 federal student aid programs, 605 state programs, as well as institutional aid that a student will have access to after completing their FAFSA form.
A FAFSA form can be submitted every few years, which is important to know because while a student may not qualify one year, financial issues can crop up that will make them eligible later on down the road. FAFSA isn't for everyone. The application consists of around 130 questions that try and gauge a student's financial situation. They will ask about a student's income, the family's assets, income, and dependency. The also take into consideration the amount of bills that a family has, as well as the number of children in the household and those who are currently in college. As a result of these questions, the U.S. Department of Education will determine how much money parents should be contributing toward their child’s education. It doesn't matter if they do or don't. All that matters is how the numbers add up.
Most financial aid is on a first-come, first-serve basis. This means prospective students should fill out the application as early as possible in order to ensure they are considered for maximum financial assistance. The U.S. Department of Education begins accepting application as early as January 1. This application will determine the amount of financial aid you will receive for the following academic year. In order to ensure that you have the necessary items to complete the FAFSA, talk with a member of the financial aid department or contact the U.S. Department of Education and speak to them about the process.
Almost everybody living in the United States can qualify for financial aid. You must be a U.S. Citizen, a U.S. National, or an eligible non-citizen, have a valid social security number, have a high school diploma or GED, complete a FAFSA promising to use aid for educational purposes and not be in default on any student loan. If you are unsure whether or not you qualify for the FAFSA, contact the university you plan on attending and speak with a professional in their financial aid department.