Understanding Expected Family Contribution: Institutional Method
Colleges that use the CSS Profile in addition to FAFSA calculate a student’s EFC by using the “Institutional Method,” which will likely arrive at a different number from the “Federal Method” because the CSS Profile takes into consideration more financial information.
The College Board further clarifies that “the FM is used to calculate the student’s eligibility for federal aid, such as Pell Grants, and most types of state aid. It’s used by most public universities. Many private colleges and scholarship programs, and some public universities use the IM to determine the student’s eligibility for their own grant funds.” Scoir students can work alongside their parents to use the provided calculator to determine an estimated EFC.
What Can Fafsa Money Be Used For
Recipients can use federal funds to pay for many education-related costs. Examples include tuition, books, fees, and supplies. Learners may also apply federal funds toward living expenses and transportation costs.
Although restrictions are flexible, students should only use federal funds, especially loans, on necessary items. Learners must repay federal loans with interest.
Do I Have To Wait Until Our Tax Return Is Out To File Fafsa
Individuals can submit the FAFSA form before filing taxes. However, the FAFSA form requires tax information from two years prior. For example, the 2021-22 FAFSA form requires 2019 tax information. Most applicants will have already filed taxes before completing the FAFSA form.
Applicants can expedite the process by using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, which automatically populates the FAFSA form with the user’s tax information.
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Your Parents Tax Documents
If youre a dependent student , you will need to include your parents tax information on the FAFSA®. They can fill this out on their own or go through it with you either way, youll want to gather all their information so you have it on hand before you start.
The FAFSA® might seem super complicated, but luckily, there are easy ways to prepare so its not the massive time suck you expect it to be.
Dont forget! You can file your FAFSA® FREE with FRANK every year in just a few short minutes.
Changes Are Coming To The Fafsa
The FAFSA Simplification Act, which was enacted into law on December 27, 2020, includes several changes to the FAFSA, most of which will be phased in beginning with the 2023-2024 FAFSA form. However, three changes will be in effect for the 2022-2023 filing year:
Male students no longer need to register with the selective service to qualify for federal financial aid. Students will still be asked if they want to register for the selective service on the 2022-2023 FAFSA, but their answer will not affect their financial aid eligibility.
Having a drug conviction will no longer disqualify a student from receiving financial aid. This question will also appear on the 2022-2023 FAFSA form, but students answers will not affect their aid eligibility.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Federal Student Aid office
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How Much Does The Css Profile Cost
While the FAFSA is free, the CSS Profile does cost money: $25.00 for the first college and $16.00 for each additional. Therefore, if you are applying to 8 colleges that require the CSS Profile, it will cost $137.00.
However, on December 14, 2017, The College Board announced that “starting in fall 2018, CSS Profile will also allow an unlimited number of CSS Profile applications for first-time, domestic college applicants who take the SAT with a fee waiver or meet income-eligibility criteria.”
Understanding the Financial Aid Application Steps
Some Schools Require Fafsa For Merit Aid
While policies vary depending on the school, it is possible that your student will not be offered merit aid if they do not fill out a FAFSA.
Sometimes the FAFSA requirement is to verify citizenship or colleges want to make sure a student has maximized their need-based aid.
Other times, your student will get special recruitment scholarship offers if they filled out a FAFSA but didnt qualify for need-based aid.
Will having financial need hurt your students chances of being admitted?
Sometimes yes and sometimes no.
It depends on the financial aid philosophy of the college.
Colleges are either considered need-blind or need-aware when it comes to how they consider financial aid as part of their admissions process.
Even with need-aware admission, only students who are on the borderline are affected by having financial need.
Of course, if you fill out a FAFSA and it shows you dont have financial need at the school, then the application wont be affected either way because you wont actually use need-based aid.
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Not Watching How You Rank Schools
One of the easiest and most costly mistakes you can make is not getting a state grant because you placed a state school in which you have applied or may apply too low on your FAFSA form. Depending on the state you live in, you wont get state grants unless you rank a state school among your top three picks. Check out the state list on studentaid.gov to see how your state processes grants. When in doubt, list the state school you are most likely to attend as your first choice.
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Your Social Security Number
Whether this is your first time filing or youve done so in the past, your social security number is what lets the government know you are who you say you are. That way, they can make sure the money goes to you and not someone else.
If you dont have your SSN, ask your parents or contact the Social Security Administration office in your area to find out how to go about getting yours.
Students May List Up To 10 Colleges On Their Fafsa
Throughout the entire college decision process, students will have the ability to add and remove colleges from their FAFSA® form, even after theyve signed the application. In most cases, any schools added to an already completed and signed FAFSA® will receive the students application within a week.
In the end, theres not always a right or wrong order in which to file your FAFSA® and submit your applications for enrollment. Some students will fall in love with a school later in the process, and others may need more time to collect all their financial information. The key is to try to get things done sooner rather than later to maximize your financial aid opportunities.
Truthfully, the more colleges you put on your FAFSA® the more financial aid you might get. Why is that? Colleges decide your financial aid package based on factors relating to its student body, your need, budget, and federal allocation. Some colleges might offer you more aid than others, which means you get your choice of the best package.
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Should I Apply For Financial Aid Before Applying To College
A. You should apply for admission to the colleges you are interested in BEFORE filing your FAFSA. It is possible to file your FAFSA before applying for admission to a college, but the schools will generally not package an award offer for you until you have been admitted to their school.
Can I Apply For Financial Aid After Acceptance
You can apply at any time, even before youve chosen a school. However, funds wont be transferred until youve made it official. If you notice that your deadline is looming and you still havent received a letter of acceptance from your top school, you should fill out your FAFSA as soon as possible regardless.
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When Should I Start Applying For College Financial Aid
In order to receive the highest amount of aid, you should submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid as soon as possible as of October 1st of the year before you will be attending college. This is because most colleges award some kinds of aid on a first-come, first-served basis.
Documents Needed For The Fafsa
Locating the required documents can pose a challenge for federal aid applicants. The following list highlights materials to gather prior to beginning the FAFSA.
Tessa Cooper is a freelance writer and editor who regularly contributes to international and regional publications focused on education and lifestyle topics. She earned a bachelorâs in public relations from Missouri State University and is passionate about helping learners avoid high student loan debt while pursuing their dream major. Tessa loves writing about travel and food topics and is always planning her next meal or vacation.
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How To Apply For Financial Aid For College: 10 Steps
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Applying For Financial Aid
- Research financial aid programs early. There are many different types of , and available, totaling billions of dollars. Start researching during your sophomore and junior years of high school, or one to two years before you plan to start college. You can find information at this website at your high schools counseling office at your college’s financial aid office at public libraries or at various lending institutions.
- Early in your high school senior year, or one year before you start college, contact the financial aid offices at the colleges of your choice for deadlines and additional documents that may be required.
- Complete a , which is available to complete online and offers mobile-friendly options or in paper format, as soon after October 1 as possible. You must submit this form in order to be considered for all federal financial aid programs, most institutional programs, and most , including the .
- Students report their 2019 income information on the 2021-22 FAFSA.
- Further details regarding how to obtain the tax information needed to complete the FAFSA are provided on the page.
- If you are an Illinois student who is not eligible for federal financial aid , you may apply for a MAP grant using the online Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid, which is patterned after the FAFSA. For more information, visit the page of this website, and talk with your high school counselor or the financial aid office at your college or university.
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Not Filling Out The Form Early Enough
Filling out the FAFSA as close to Oct. 1 as possible for the following school year is very important for getting as much financial aid as possible. Some types of financial aid are offered on a first-come, first-served basis. In these cases, the longer you wait, the less money is available.
Put together a list of federal deadlines, state deadlines and individual college deadlines to make sure you dont miss the final application date. Deadlines can vary by individual type of financial aid, as well.
How Do I Know If I Got My Fafsa Money
Your FAFSA status can be found on the My FAFSA page, which displays immediately after you log in if you have already started or completed a FAFSA form. To check on the status of financial aid being disbursed to you or your account, check with the financial aid office at your college or career school.
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Fafsa Checklist Gather What You Need Now
Before you know it, another FAFSA® year will be upon us. For students returning to school in need of financial aid, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid is a necessary step to gaining free money for college.
Unfortunately, its not always an easy process. Things change from year to year, requirements are difficult to sift through and understand, and for some families, the process is time-consuming and confusing.
At FRANK, we believe that getting money for college should be simple. Thats why we created our simplified version of the FAFSA®, in hopes that students could get what they need to continue their education.
To further simplify things, we decided to create a printable checklist to help you prepare for filing your FAFSA®. This checklist includes the necessary documents you need year over year to file for your FAFSA® and heres what it includes:
Fafsa Stands For Free Application For Federal Student Aid
The FAFSA is the primary application for need-based financial aid. Colleges use the information from your FAFSA to determine your eligibility for financial aid. Colleges may also use information from your FAFSA to award private scholarships from their own funds, and your state may require the FAFSA to determine state-funded college aid.
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Which Schools Should I Apply To
Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid doesnt cost a thing, so you can provide your information to as many schools as youre even remotely interested in attending .
College applications, on the other hand, come with application fees averaging $40, with many schools charging $75 or more, according to U.S. News & World Report. So applying to every college or university you might conceivably be interested in could be prohibitively expensive.
It goes without saying that what youll pay to apply to colleges pales in comparison to all of the expenses youll rack up getting your degree.
Fortunately, there are many tools available to help students get a sense of not only the cost of their degree but the quality of the education they can expect to receive. These tools can help students minimize the student loan debt they take on and maximize their ability to repay it.
The Department of Educations College Scorecard offers data on 7,000 schools, with thousands of data points providing insight key performance indicators like college completion rates, debt and repayment statistics, and post-college earnings.
College Scorecard will let you check an individual schools net price by income, the typical debt load of graduates, graduation rate, median earnings 10 years after entering school, size and makeup of the student body, and available academic programs.
Prioritize Free Financial Aid First
Once your FAFSA is completed, processed and used to determine your financial need, youll get a financial aid award letter from the colleges you applied to. Each letter outlines the financial aid package youll receive if you accept their offer of admission.
However, they dont often explain in detail what each type of federal financial aid is. You should do your own research to understand how each kind of financial aid works whether its a gift with no financial obligation or a loan that youll have to repay.
Among the types of financial aid that take the form of gifts are:
- Grants: These are gift awards that can include Pell Grants from the federal government and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants awarded by the college. Students should prioritize merit aid and grants in their financial aid package, Randolph said. Neither of these have to be paid back.
- Scholarships: These, too, are gifted awards to help cover college costs. Unlike grants, scholarships are usually offered by private entities and granted based on merit as well as need.
- Work-Study: Work-study will require that you work a campus job, Randolph said, and you can either use the paycheck for personal expenses or put it toward your tuition bill. If you qualify for work-study, take that over any loans in your package.
And if youre considering attending one of multiple schools, use our financial aid award comparison tool to see which college or university offers the best package.
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How Long Does It Take To Hear Back From The Fafsa
Students learn about their financial aid eligibility quickly. The Department of Education processes online applications in 3-5 days. Applicants who submit the FAFSA by mail typically receive a response in 7-10 days.
Applicants receive a Student Aid Report based on their FAFSA information. Review this information to ensure its accuracy. Your school will use this report to determine how much aid to provide.