Attention college-bound students! If you’re planning to attend college during the 2020-21 academic year, read this blog! You’ll learn how the federal student aid process works, and about resources to help you complete your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
File the FAFSA
The 2020-2021 FAFSA filing season opened on October 1, so now is the time for all prospective and current college students to apply for financial aid. The FAFSA is your application for federal, state, and college-based aid, and some scholarships require it as well. The FAFSA needs to be completed each year to renew your eligibility for Federal Student Aid for the following school year! It’s always best to get it done as soon as possible, ideally sometime in October or November! Use our FAFSA Checklist to gather items needed to complete the form.
Expect a Student Aid Report
After you submit the FAFSA, you’ll receive an e-mail in 3-5 days. This acknowledges that your FAFSA was sent to the college(s) listed on the form, and includes a link to view your Student Aid Report (SAR). The SAR provides your Expected Family Contribution (the amount the federal government believes your family can pay toward your education), and it will also let you know if you were selected for verification.
Watch for Verification
Verification is a mini-audit of the information you provided on your FAFSA. If selected, the college will notify you via mail, email, or your student portal – and will indicate what information they are requesting. You’ll need to submit those documents to the college’s Financial Aid Department as soon as possible. Keep in mind: the college cannot process your financial aid if you ignore their requests, and missing verification deadlines could impact the amount of financial aid you receive. Items often requested during verification might include:
- IRS Tax Transcript
- Household verification form
- Statement of child support paid or received
Expect an Award Notification
Expect to receive a financial aid award notification from each college you listed on your FAFSA. Keep in mind, only colleges that have accepted you for admission will extend financial aid offers. This will be a detailed listing of the types and amounts of aid being offered to you based on your FAFSA results. Once you receive your award notification, review it thoroughly and accept or decline each type of aid. If you listed more than one college on your FAFSA, compare your awards to determine which is the best offer – pay close attention to the amount of loans needed at each college!
Free FAFSA Tools
If you’re apprehensive about completing the FAFSA or have questions about the process, we have several resources to help you:
- FAFSA Checklist – lists items needed for the FAFSA
- FAFSA Demo – six-part video series that walks you through the FAFSA
- College Funding Estimator – estimates your FAFSA results
Contact the EducationQuest office nearest you to ask questions or to schedule an appointment to get help completing the FAFSA. Remember, our services are completely FREE!