FAFSA? What’s Thatsa? Yes, it may sound like the latest influenza, but, for the uninitiated, FAFSA is actually the acronym for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, the official application used by all colleges to determine eligibility for federal aid.
It sounds scarier than it really is. FAFSA is the universal application used by American colleges and universities each year to gauge a family’s financial resources and their ability to contribute to a child’s college education. I say family because it is not only the parent’s income and assets that are reviewed, but also the child’s.
The FAFSA application can be completed online and submitted directly via the web for consideration for federal aid. There is a portion that asks for the student’s financial information and another section that surveys the parents’ financial information. To submit the FAFSA online does require a PIN (personal identification number) which can also be applied for online but takes several days to process.
The FAFSA website is user-friendly and the process of filling out the questionnaire can be as easy as A, B, C. The information can be saved online, which streamlines the process for the following year, particularly helpful since it’s an exercise that has to be done each year with up to date financial information. High school seniors have to submit their FAFSA application for regular decision by the end of January of the student’s senior year and those applying early decision should have forms submitted between November 15 and December 15 of the student’s senior year.
However, parents who feel confused or intimidated should try and find professional help since even though the website is designed to be easy to follow, mistakes can be literally costly.
Photo by joshuaheller via Flickr.