If you need help paying for college, did you know that there is more than $238 billion in financial aid available? Filing your federal financial aid application (FAFSA), is the first step in applying for more than 90 percent of this money.
The FAFSA is essentially your gateway to federal student aid. Upon completion of the form, your financial information (and your parents' information if you are a dependent) will determine how much federal student aid you may qualify for - including free money such as college grants. This information also determines your eligibility for low-cost federal education loans. So if you don't get enough in scholarships and grants, federal loans could be your next step.
Nearly every student is eligible for some form of financial aid, including low-interest Federal Stafford and/or parent PLUS loans provided that you, among other criteria:
- are a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national, or an eligible non-citizen;
- have a valid Social Security Number;
- have a high school diploma or GED;
- are registered with the U.S. Selective Service (if you are a male ages 18 to 25);
- complete a FAFSA promising to use any federal aid for educational purposes;
- do not owe refunds on any federal student grants;
- are not in default on any student loans; and
- have not been found guilty of the sale or possession of illegal drugs during a period when you received federal student aid.
How it works
Before you are granted financial aid, an analysis would be performed to determine how much your family is capable of contributing towards your educational expenses. It requires an examination of your total assets and income, the size of the family, as well as other factors. In short, this determines your need and how much you may need to borrow.