Federal financial aid is the best place to start seeking money for college. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the most important application for getting federal assistance and the only way to get access to federal student loans, grants and work-study programs. Submit your FAFSA application as early as possible, some aid is awarded on a first come, first served basis. Financial aid is money to supplement what you and your family can afford to pay for your education. It may be used for tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, meal plans, and other educational expenses.
Eligibility for financial aid depends on several factors, such as your personal and family income and the school's cost. To receive financial aid, you must meet the following criteria:
Following are the different types of Federal Student Loans available:
Federal Direct Subsidized Loans
The least expensive federal direct student loan option is the Federal Direct Subsidized Loan, which is sometimes called the Subsidized Stafford Loan. This low-interest, fixed-rate loan is available to students with demonstrated financial need. With this type of loan, the federal governments pays the interest on your loan while you’re attending school at least half time, 6-months after you leave school and during periods of deferment (when you delay or reduce payment on your loan because of financial struggles or other defined needs). Apply for a Federal Subsidized Loan with the FAFSA
Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan
Financial need is not a factor in obtaining a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan (sometimes called the Unsubsidized Stafford Loan). You can apply for a low-interest, fixed-rate loan if you are an undergraduate or graduate student. Unlike the Subsidized Loan, you will be responsible for paying the loan’s interest as soon as the loan is disbursed. Apply for a Federal Unsubsidized Loan with the FAFSA
Federal Direct PLUS Loans for Parents and Graduate Students
Another type of federal loan available to parents and graduate student is called a PLUS Loan. This is a loan granted to parents of dependent undergraduate students and graduate or professional students. A good credit history is mandatory to qualify for this type of loan. A Parent PLUS loan from the federal government has some benefits including flexible payment suspension options but also explore alternative Parent Loans from private educational lenders to compare interest rates and fees to decide what is best for your family. Apply for a PLUS Loan with the FAFSA
The application takes an average of 30 minutes or less to complete and will go faster if all of your documents and information is gathered and prepared in advance.
FAFSA Submission Confirmation
A confirmation page will appear after you sign and submit your application. If you don’t see this confirmation, double check that you’ve clicked the submit button. You will receive a copy of the confirmation page by email if you provided an email address. Be sure to keep your confirmation number with your other important financial aid information.
Student Aid Report (SAR)
After submitting the FAFSA, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR). The SAR summarizes the information from your FAFSA and provides your financial aid eligibility. Review this carefully and verify all information is accurate. If you find you need to make corrections, go to https://fafsa.ed.gov/, log in as a returning user, and click on “Make FAFSA Corrections.”
Student financial aid is awarded based on the following equation:
The FAFSA is also the main application used to determine eligibility for work-study programs where students can fund their education by part-time employment at participating educational institutions. All federal grant programs also use the FAFSA to determine eligibility and some scholarships also use the form for scholarship applications.