What is the FAFSA? A StudentAdvisor Financial Aid Crash Course

what is the fafsa financial aidBy Megan Kenslea
StudentAdvisor.com Staff

As tuition costs climb, more students have to look for financial assistance to fund their education. It seems that while many students understand the process of getting into college, very few have much guidance on how to pay for it.

In fact one of the most common questions that gets asked on StudentAdvisor is, “How do I get a grant to pay for school?” And always the answer is, “Fill out the FAFSA!”

What is the FAFSA?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step you must take toward getting financial aid such as grants, federal loans, federal work study, and need-based scholarships. The colleges you apply to will use the report sent to them from FAFSA to determine what aid you qualify for in order to put together your financial aid package. It’s important to complete the FAFSA as soon as possible – colleges have a limited amount of federal aid and need-based scholarship money to award and it’s often done on a first come first serve basis. Be sure to note that there are a few different deadlines for FAFSA: federal, state, and the individual colleges’. Also, you must complete the FAFSA again for each year you will remain in college to re-qualify for aid.

But filling out the FAFSA isn’t so straightforward – in fact for a lot of people it can be downright confusing. Check out Michael Szarek’s 22 FAFSA tips and you’ll immediately see why. And before you fill it out, be sure to read over StudentAdvisor’s treasure trove of financial aid resources to make sure you understand the application process and the implications of accepting certain forms of financial aid.

Take a look at some of the Financial Aid advice available on StudentAdvisor. You might even want to bookmark this page for future reference!

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