The FAFSA: Your gateway to financial aid

In the last few years, higher education has seen a significant increase in the amount of grant and loan money available. Taxpayers foot the bill, so don’t leave your share on the table. To make sure you are able to access financial aid programs from the federal government, you need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as the “FAFSA.”

Which One Are You?

I haven’t filed the FAFSA yet:

You will want to get it filed as soon as possible! We’ve put together some helpful information below that answers questions we often hear from our users.

I have already filed the FAFSA:

You may be looking for private student loans to fill the remaining amount not covered by free financial aid, and federal loans. If so, our loan comparison tool can help you find the right private loan.

What is the FAFSA?

The FAFSA is used by colleges to determine your Expected Family Contribution (or EFC), the amount you and your family will be expected to pay for one year of college.

How does the FAFSA work, and how important is it?

The FAFSA is the gateway to need-based financial aid and is also used to establish your eligibility for loans offered by the federal government. Your college will compare your EFC with their annual cost of attendance. If the EFC is less than the cost of attendance, that difference is your eligibility for need-based financial aid. If the EFC is more than the cost of the college, you will still be eligible to participate in federal and other loan programs to cover college costs.

Why should I complete the FAFSA?

  1. To see if you qualify for need-based financial aid and if so, how much.
  2. To qualify for the largest amount of need-based aid the regulations permit.
  3. To get in line early. When it comes to college, the best aid often goes to the people in the front of the line. Try to complete the FAFSA as early as possible each year.
  4. To be eligible for loans from the federal government.
  5. To create a “safety net” in the event that an unexpected occurrence such as loss of job, illness, death, divorce, or natural disaster, causes a change in your income or asset profile. A completed FAFSA allows the college’s financial aid administrator to recalculate your EFC based on projected (instead of past) income and assets under these new conditions.

How do I get started?

You can complete the FAFSA at the Department of Education’s website. Because it’s similar to the way they approach tax forms some people find the FAFSA to be confusing, and prefer to get expert advice or guidance to help them complete it. If you decide you need professional help with the FAFSA visit SimpleTuition.


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