What is FAFSA?

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The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (known as the FAFSA) is a form that can be prepared annually by current and prospective college students (undergraduate and graduate) in the United States to determine their eligibility for student financial aid.

Federal Student Aid offers several different types of financial aid. The most common types of aid students are offered from the federal government as a result of completing a FAFSA are:

Pell Grant – A grant of up to $6,195 (as of the 2019-20 Award Year) for students with a low expected family contribution. Unlike a loan, a Pell Grant does not have to be repaid and are awarded to undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor’s or a professional degree. The amount of the award can depend on financial need, the cost of attendance and full-time status.

Stafford Loan – Direct Stafford Loans, from the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program, are low-interest loans for eligible students to help cover the cost of higher education at a four-year college or university, community college, or trade, career, or technical school. Eligible students borrow directly from the U.S. Department of Education (the Department) at participating schools.

The Federal Work-Study Program – A program where students can get part-time work, up to a certain amount. In most cases, the federal government pays half of a student’s wage and the school pays the other half.

Students are now able to file a FAFSA as early as October 1, using income information from an earlier tax year. For example, on the 2020-21 FAFSA, students (and parents, as appropriate) will report their 2018 income information, rather than their 2019 income information. And you may ask, who is considered your parent for FAFSA? Here’s that answer.