If you’re heading to college, you and your parents need to understand how FAFSA works.
Don’t think you have to make too much money to qualify for financial aid. You might still be eligible for help.
Almost every family with a college-bound kid should fill out the FAFSA.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Most families can get some federal financial aid for college.
- Students with big financial needs might get federal grants and loans with interest covered.
- Even if you don’t have big financial needs, you could still get help like federal loans.
- FAFSA figures out how much financial aid you qualify for, both need-based and not.
- It looks at things like your family’s income and assets.
- The Student Aid Index (SAI) shows how much aid you could get.
- Filling out the FAFSA helps you qualify for aid from federal, state, and school programs, plus scholarships.
- Assets like bank accounts count, but not retirement or home value.
- You might qualify for aid based on your need, your family’s situation, or both.
If you’re not ready for the FAFSA, you can use the Federal Student Aid Estimator for a rough idea.
Here are some programs that need the FAFSA:
- Pell Grants: They’re for students with big financial needs and don’t need to be paid back.
- Federal Work-Study: It offers part-time jobs for students.
- Federal loans: They’re cheaper than private loans and have more payment options.
- Non-need-based aid includes loans and grants too.
- TEACH Grants help future teachers, but you have to meet certain requirements.
Applying for FAFSA Grants financial aid is easy.
Here is how to go about it:
- Look into aid options early and mark FAFSA deadlines.
- Fill out the FAFSA each year you need aid.
- Compare aid offers from different schools.
- Keep filling out the FAFSA each year and maintain good grades.
- FAFSA helps the Department of Education figure out who needs college aid.
It’s not free money or a loan; it’s just an aid application.
To qualify for aid, you must have financial need, be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen, and be in an eligible program.
For aid in the 2024–2025 year, you need to submit the FAFSA by June 30, 2025.
Most families should fill out the FAFSA.
Even if you don’t get grants or scholarships, you might still qualify for loans with better terms than private ones.