FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)

Going to college may sound expensive and there are different ways of reducing this financial burden for students and their parents.  For permanent residents and US citizens, students can apply for the FAFSA starting October 1st of their senior year.  This application gathers both parents’ & students’ assets and income to see if are eligible for federal and state aid. In other words, this is for need-based financial aid.  We will provide evening presentations and after school application workshops for seniors to assist them in completing the necessary application form(s).  For more details, check out: fafsa.ed.gov

FSA ID: Set up your student and your parents’ FSA ID AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.  You can’t submit the FAFSA without one. The ID serves as an electronic signature. Click here to start the process.

1. What is the FAFSA?

The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is the application form that is required before you can receive any form of federal financial aid. You can file on the Web electronically. The FAFSA asks several questions about family finances and your list your college choices.

2. When should I apply for aid?

You should complete the FAFSA as soon as possible after October 1 in your senior year to be considered for the next academic year. The form should be submitted before March 2 to be considered for Cal Grant and many university grants. Some schools have earlier deadlines so be sure to check with the campus financial aid office for campus-specific deadlines.  We will offer Cash for College Financial Aid event every December to help families complete FAFSA accurately.  If possible, please bring the 2016 tax return with you.  If you don’t have income tax return, you can still come and create and account and see what the application looks like.

Simple advice: Find out every college’s FAFSA deadline and meet the EARLIEST deadline…then you have met them all! If deadlines have already passed, FILE YOUR FAFSA ANYWAY! A large portion of the money is available for many months after the first early deadlines. You probably won’t get the best aid, but you might still qualify for federal grant and loan.

3. Do I need to complete my income tax return before I complete the FAFSA?

The 2018-2019 FAFSA will specifically ask for the income on the 2016 tax return. If you were not required to file a 2016 tax return then you can still complete the FAFSA. If you were required to file a 2016 tax return and haven’t done so already, it is in your best interest to file one. This will ensure that the FAFSA processes correctly.

4. How do I apply for a grant? For loans? For student employment.

By completing the FAFSA and supplying any other required documents to the financial aid office, you are considered for federal grant, state grants, federal loans, and work study. You don’t have to file separate applications for each program.

In order to be considered for Cal Grant, as well as for some other funds, you will need to file your FAFSA by March 2 (prior to the year when you want to go to school)

Some programs may require additional paperwork. Be sure to complete all forms sent to you by the financial aid office.

5. I filled out the FAFSA. How and when do I find out the results?

After submitting your FAFSA it will process in a 1-3 days. After that you can access your Student Aid Report (SAR) from the FAFSA processor. The SAR will list all of the information you put on the FAFSA. You should review the information listed on the form to make sure it is correct and that all of the colleges you are interested in attending are listed on the form. If any information is not correct, you must return the form with the correct information. This information also is forwarded to the schools you listed on the FAFSA. Once the schools receive the information and verify it with any additional documents you submitted at their request, they will notify you of your aid eligibility.In addition, the SAR will indicate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This number is an estimate of how much the government believes that your family can contribute to your education. It is not how much financial aid you will get, but the estimated amount the governments thinks that your family can contribute towards your education.

6. I completed the FAFSA over a month ago, but I haven’t received anything back. What should I do?

If you haven’t received a Student Aid Report within 5 weeks of filing your FAFSA, you can call the federal processor at 800-4-FED-AID. You will need to provide your Social Security number and date of birth as verification. You also can write to:

Application and Pell Processing Systems Division
U.S. Department of Education
600 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-5453

7. My parents don’t support me. Do I still need to include their information on the FAFSA?

If you don’t meet one of the federal criteria to be an independent student, you will have to supply your parents’ information on the financial aid application. If extremely adverse family circumstances prevent you from supplying your parents’ information, contact the financial aid office to discuss your situation. Read the FAFSA instructions to help guide you.

8. What is untaxed income for financial aid purposes?

The FAFSA asks for specific types of untaxed income. Untaxed income is income received that is not subject to U.S. income taxes, but is required to be reported on the FAFSA. It includes Social Security and veterans benefits, welfare, child support, pensions, military subsistence allowances, IRAs, KEOGHs, TSAs, etc. You should check the untaxed income worksheet in the FAFSA application to determine if there is untaxed income that needs to be reported. Read the FAFSA instructions to help guide you.

9. Should I keep a copy of the FAFSA?

Yes. It would be a good idea to start a file folder or binder of all of the important papers related to your college admission and financial aid applications. Keep copies of your completed applications and FAFSA, your Student Aid Report, a copy of any additional documents that you might have supplied to the college financial aid office, and any correspondence with the federal processor, the campus financial aid office, or other financial aid or scholarship agencies.