Every parent of a college-bound student must become familiar with this mysterious acronym:
It is mentioned in virtually every financial aid seminar, article, and piece of information that parents come across in their quest to find ways to help pay for college. If you have not heard of the F.A.F.S.A., or are somewhat confused as to what it actually means, let me help you out.
Free – No cost!
Application – It must be filled out!
Federal – From our government!
Student – Your pride and joy!
Aid – Monetary help!
The F.A.F.S.A. forms can be found online at https://fafsa.ed.gov/, not to be confused with a very similar site address with .com at the end. As the very important first word in F.A.F.S.A. states, it is FREE to fill out and submit. If you are asked to pay a fee to submit your F.A.F.S.A. forms, you are at the wrong site.
Many parents automatically wonder if they should take the time to submit the F.A.F.S.A.
- Do we make too much money to be awarded any financial aid?
- Will the forms be too confusing to figure out?
- How does a divorced family go about filing the F.A.F.S.A. forms?
The answer to all of these valid questions is: JUST DO IT. The formula that is used to calculate financial aid awards is very complicated. Trying to figure out if your family will get any aid and how much is virtually impossible. The age of the oldest parent, number of students in college, and income level are just a few of the factors considered in determining awards. High income families often assume they will not get any aid, but even low income federal loans can help out when it comes to the high cost of college tuition and all the fees associated with college living. Many scholarship and college applications require students to submit their F.A.F.S.A. forms before they will award any aid from their institutions, no matter what a family’s income level is.
As to the fear of confusion in filling out the F.A.F.S.A. forms, the https://fafsa.ed.gov/ site does an excellent job walking parents through each step, with detailed explanations provided along the way. There is also a toll free number that can be called, answered by real people who are really nice. (I know, I’ve called…twice!) Divorced or separated families can take advantage of this service and get all their questions answered.
The F.A.F.S.A. needs be filled out and filed online every year before a student attends college, starting in their senior year of high school. Forms are accepted beginning January 1 of each year. Getting the F.A.F.S.A. forms in as close to January 1 as possible will give parents and their students the best possible chance of being awarded financial aid.
F.A.F.S.A. ~ Just Do It! Have you filed your F.A.F.S.A. forms yet?