While we’d certainly like it any other way, the truth is that it’s expensive to go to college! That’s why, along with scholarships, the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Aid, is an option many incoming and current college students can depend on to help pay for college. If you aren't in the know, the FAFSA is an application that students must fill out in orde to to see if they qualify for federal student aid.
To help you prepare, we’re going over four things you need to know before you start your application! To find out if you’re able to receive federal student aid, see the basic eligibility criteria here.
1) Your FAFSA ID
Applying for the FAFSA starts with creating a username and password at studentaid.gov. While that’s pretty self-explanatory, remember that the FAFSA is not a “one and done” process. Finances and family situations can change year to year, which means that your eligibility can change as well. You’ll need to renew your FAFSA every year, so remember your FAFSA ID!
If you’re a dependent (more on that below), your parent or guardian will also need to create their own FAFSA ID.
2) Personal and Financial Information
Completing the FAFSA application requires some data entry, like your social security number, information about income tax returns, W-2s, etc. If you’re a dependent student, you will also need to enter your parents’ tax return information as well. Having all of this information in front of you before you start your application process will expedite the application process overall.
3) Dependency Status
Dependency status simply means whether or not you’re dependent on a parent or guardian for financial support, and it has implications for your student aid. While being a dependent does not affect your eligibility for financial aid, it has some influence on the amount of financial aid you’ll be able to receive for school.
This may seem complicated, but you can learn more about dependent and independent students, including how to figure out which you are, on this page.
4) Errors Can Set You Back
With the price tag that colleges carry, it’s important to complete your application as soon as possible, so you can see how much aid you can receive. Whether it’s an error in your address or a more serious issue like misrepresenting your income, you want to sidestep issues on the application at all costs!
Issues with income are serious, as income is one of the most important factors that determine the type of financial aid you or your child can receive. Other errors like your address being wrong, misspelled names or incorrect social security numbers can cause delays in the application pipeline.
How do you avoid this? Double (or triple!) check your work! Taking the time to review everything before sending your application will pay off.
If You Need More Assistance
Once you’ve applied, you’ll get your Student Aid Report and subsequently award letters from each of the colleges for which you’ve been accepted (these contain how much financial aid you’re eligible to receive). If you find that you still need more, we’re here to help!
While the application window is over for this year, we’re proud to offer thousands of dollars in scholarships each year to students planning to or currently attending college. Find out more about our scholarships here.
Beyond that, we’ve partnered with Sallie Mae® to provide student loans with competitive rates. Find our more by visiting the student loans section of our website. It only takes 15 minutes to apply!
Florida Credit Union is a full-service financial institution. Founded in 1954 as the Alachua County Teachers’ Credit Union, FCU now services over 130,000 members in 48 counties throughout North and Central Florida. For more information on the services we provide, visit FLCU.org or call us at 1-800-284-1144.