FAFSA

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) allows students to apply for federal aid for college, graduate school, or vocational school. Federal Student Aid is an office of the U.S. Department of Education. It provides loans, grants, and work-study opportunities to students. Many colleges and universities use FAFSA information to decide students' eligibility for state or school aid. To receive nursing financial aid, students must complete the FAFSA form. If students don't fill out the FAFSA, they could miss out on most financial aid opportunities. Every student preparing to go to college or career school should fill out the form to determine their eligibility.

If students don't fill out the FAFSA, they could miss out on most financial aid opportunities. Every student preparing to go to college or career school should fill out the form to determine their eligibility.

Different aid programs have different deadlines. Federal student aid, state student aid, college or career school aid, and other financial aid are all individual and have their own deadlines and requirements. Students should fill out the FAFSA as soon as possible once it becomes available so that they don't miss any individual deadlines. Each year, students have to complete the application to maintain eligibility. Early estimates are available for students who are not ready to fill out their FAFSA yet, but who want to know the amounts for which they qualify.

How to Get Financial Aid in Nursing

There are many forms of financial aid for nursing students, from both public and private sources. The FAFSA for nursing students is just one method of obtaining financial aid. Students can apply for a variety of nursing scholarships to help pay for their education. Other types of financial aid include grants, loans, loan forgiveness programs, and work-study programs.

FAFSA Funding

Loans are money borrowed for college or career school. Loans must be repaid with interest. Grants are financial aid that do not need to be repaid unless students withdraw from their program and owe a refund. Work-study programs allow students to earn money to help pay for school by working. Federal student aid money helps students pay for room and board, tuition, and other educational expenses. Students need to fill out a FAFSA application each year to maintain eligibility. They can use their FSA (Federal Student Aid) ID to automatically provide some basic information, and must update it as needed to make sure all information entered is accurate.

Students can lose their eligibility for financial aid if they do not continue to meet the basic requirements or make satisfactory academic progress. Students who do not fill out their FAFSA each year may also lose their financial aid eligibility. Financial aid award amounts depend on students' expected family contribution (EFC) and the cost of attendance (COA) at their prospective school. The financial aid office subtracts students' EFC from their COA to determine their financial need. The amount of financial need determines how much need-based aid a student can get. The financial aid office determines non-need-based aid by subtracting the financial aid the student has already received from the COA.

FAFSA Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for federal student aid, students must demonstrate financial need, be a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen, have a valid social security number, enroll in an eligible program, maintain satisfactory academic progress, have a high school diploma or GED, and sign the certification statement. Male students must register with the selective service. Students must be at least part time to qualify for Direct Loan Program funds. Students with a parent who lost their life in Afghanistan or Iraq post-9/11 might be eligible for additional federal Pell Grant funding. Students with intellectual disabilities may also receive Pell Grants and other grants. Once students are in college, they need to continue filling out their FAFSA form every year to maintain eligibility.

How to Complete the FAFSA

When Should You Submit the FAFSA?

Students who file their FAFSA early can potentially earn more than double the grant money of students who file later. Certain state and school aid awards students on a first-come, first-served basis, so students should fill out their FAFSA early. The FAFSA is available on Oct. 1 every year, and most states ask students to fill it out as soon as possible after that date. Some families with assets should consider how their assets will affect aid calculations, and bide their time if necessary. Some parents may want to accelerate their debt payments before filing, and will manage their time accordingly.

What Information Do You Need to Fill Out the FAFSA?

Students should gather their drivers license, social security number, tax return information, and parents' information before filling out the FAFSA. Students and parents will both need to create an FSA ID, which allows students and parents online access to the FAFSA, and allows them to sign the FAFSA electronically. Students will need to provide their social security number and driver's license number on the application. Additionally, they need to include their parents' social security numbers. The FAFSA requires students and parents (if the student is a dependent) to submit their tax records from a previous year. They must also include records of assets and untaxed income. All financial information that students need to provide will also get filled out for parents if the student is a dependent. Students should include a list of schools they are considering applying to or have already applied to.

Filling Out Your FAFSA

There are three methods of filling out the FAFSA: apply online, complete a PDF FAFSA and mail it in, or request a paper copy by calling in. Students can print a PDF version of the FAFSA and fill it out, or they can fill it out electronically and print it. The FAFSA form asks questions about student information, student financial information, student status, parent information for certain applicants, and student household information.

The student information section asks for the student's name and contact information, date of birth, Social Security number, citizenship status, and other personal information. The student financial information section asks students about their income tax return, earnings, and investments. Student status questions include marital status, age, and legal dependents, determining whether the applicant must include parental information. Parental questions may ask about social security information, marital status, and income tax return. Household information questions determine what kind of household the student comes from.

To submit the FAFSA, students and their parents (if applicable) must agree that they will use the federal student aid to pay the cost of attending a higher learning institution. They must show that they are not in default on a federal student loan and do not owe money back on a federal student grant. They must also agree to notify their college if they default on a student loan, and not to receive a federal Pell Grant for more than one college during the same time period. Parents must agree to provide accurate information and tax forms.

Tips for Filling Out Your FAFSA

Apply Online

Online applications are much easier to complete. They only ask relevant questions and are processed a lot faster than the paper application. The online application is also more accurate since the system is designed to catch errors.

Use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool

Students who apply online have access to retrieve their IRS data to automatically fill out the FAFSA. Students who use this feature will most likely have fewer errors in their application.

List Your Potential Schools in a Particular Order

For the purpose of federal student aid, it does not matter what order schools are listed in on a FAFSA, but to be considered for state aid, certain states require students to list their schools in a specific order.

Fill Out Every Field of the Form

Mistakes on the FAFSA can delay processing times. Delays can push students to the end of the line when it comes time to disburse financial aid awards.

Include an Explanatory Letter for Special Circumstances

Even though the FAFSA asks more than 100 questions, there is no spot on the form to detail specific family circumstances, such as high medical bills or a recent job loss. In these situations, students should include a letter explaining their situation to be considered for additional aid.

Submitting the FAFSA

How Do You Submit Your FAFSA?

To submit the FAFSA, students and parents have to electronically sign with their FSA ID. If they are unable to sign electronically, they can send a printed and signed copy by mail. Parents and students without computer or printer access, will receive a signature page in the mail. They should keep copies of their signed documents and confirmation page.

Student Aid Report

A Student Aid Report (SAR) is an electronic document or paper that provides basic information about each student's eligibility for federal student aid. The SAR also lists students' answers to the FAFSA questions. Students who provide a valid email address receive an email with instructions on how to access their SAR. Students who do not provide an email address will receive their SAR via mail. Each SAR contains a four-digit data release number (DRN) which is in the upper right hand corner of the first page of the paper SAR. On the electronic SAR, the DRN is in the box with the application receipt date. Students need their DRN if they choose to allow career schools or colleges to change information on their FAFSA form.

How and When Do You Get Your FAFSA Funding?

Typically, grants or loans cover an entire academic year and schools will disburse students' money in two payments. In most situations, schools pay students at least once each term. For parents taking out Direct PLUS loans, funds disperse according to the same schedule. First-year undergraduate students and first-time borrowers have to wait 30 days after the first day of their enrollment period for their disbursement. First-time borrowers of a direct subsidized loan or a direct unsubsidized loan have to finish entrance counseling to get their first disbursement.

FAFSA FAQs

What's the Deadline for Filing the FAFSA?

The federal deadline for filing the FAFSA is midnight Central Time on June 30. Corrections or updates have to be submitted by midnight Central Time on Sept. 14. Each state and college has its own deadlines, as well.

Do You Need Good Grades to Receive FAFSA Funding?

In order to be eligible to receive federal student aid, individuals must have their high school diploma or GED. Students who completed homeschooling are also eligible. They must also be enrolled in an eligible degree program and maintain good academic progress.

Is There an Age Limit for FAFSA Aid Recipients?

There is no age limit to receive federal student aid. Any student who meets the general requirements for student aid may apply regardless of age, ethnicity, or gender.

Can Your Household Income Automatically Disqualify You from FAFSA Funding?

There is no income maximum to qualify for federal student aid. The size of an individual's family, their year in school, and many other factors are taken into account during the review of the student's application. Funding is not solely based on income.

Do Your Parents Have to Be U.S. Citizens for You to Be Eligible for FAFSA Aid?

Parents do not have to be U.S. citizens in order for their children to be eligible for federal student aid. The FAFSA does not ask students about their parents' citizenship. If a parent does not have a social security number, students must enter 000-00-0000 when asked for it.

How Long Does It Take to Fill Out the FAFSA?

The FAFSA form typically takes about 30 minutes to fill out. Students are encouraged to have all of their information ready and available to help speed the process along.

Can You File Your FAFSA Before You've Applied to Any Schools?

Students are allowed to file their FAFSA before they have applied to schools. When filling out their application, they will include every school they are considering just to be safe. Applicants can later add schools to or delete schools from their form.

Where Can You Find More Information About the FAFSA?

Students can go to FAFSA.ed.gov to find out more information about the FAFSA. They can also go to their school's financial aid office if they would like to reach out for additional help and resources.