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Examining the FAFSA

Examining the FAFSA

FAFSA stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Alison Graham

January 04, 2013

Welcome to 2013, everyone! It’s looking bright and cheery from my standpoint and – Hey! Wait! It’s January, isn’t it? Well, then it’s about time for that FAFSA form.

Now to me, that word incites a bit of fear because it just sounds so official, so important, and so future-ruining. But there’s no need to worry! Because you are now entering the world of FAFSA for dummies: the short version.

What is FAFSA?

First off, we need to cover what that stands for, not that it really matters, but you could be on Jeopardy one day. FAFSA stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Woah! Key word: free. But we’ll get to that later.

Basically, you submit this very long form all about your family’s finances, and the government assess the form in order to determine how much money they want to give you for college. A lot goes into the decision, such as how much money your parents make, how many siblings you have, whether or not they are in college, and other stuff. After they look at that vital information, they establish your EFC, or expected family contribution.

Have I lost you yet? No? Good.

On your FAFSA, you’ll choose a few colleges to submit the information to, and then based on your EFC and their tuition; they will grant you a mixture of financial aid goodies. This little package could include grants, scholarships, loans or work study programs to help you pay for college.

Important tips and information

The FAFSA form is long. There’s no sugar coating it. It’s complicated and boring. You probably won’t know half of the information it’s asking for.

Unlike your college applications that you thought were so boring, on this form you don’t even get to talk about your most fulfilling extracurricular activity, a risk you have taken or a topic that smart people would disagree on. (That’s a little preview of my college application questions. And I must say they were absolutely riveting!)

On the FAFSA form, you get to talk about money and legal information. Woo hoo! Get ready. And to do that I would suggest having a parent next to you while you do this, or maybe even have them in the commanding chair with control of the computer mouse. (Oh! By the way you can submit your FAFSA by paper, but I would highly recommend using a computer because you will get your results back faster.)

I’m planning on being there for pure moral support because I don’t even know what the word “assets” means, let alone be able to provide a list of my family’s. Just kidding I do know what that means, but I still can’t provide a list of them.

Now a little convincing…

So I bet some of you are looking at your computer screen and thinking, “It sounds like FAFSA is need-based financial aid. I don’t think I would qualify for any.”

Well, for those kids who live in mansions, and everyone else who doesn’t, you should definitely still apply. It’s completely free, so it won’t hurt to do it. Plus, you never know what you will qualify for if you don’t apply. Essentially, you could be throwing away free money! Who does that?! Alright Oprah may, but she isn’t about to go to expensive university A, B, or C.

Not to mention, there is $246 billion available for the kids of these United States in financial aid, according to the FAFSA web site. I don’t know about you, but I want to get a little slice of that. So apply! And do it quickly because, just like cake, it’s first come first serve! And who doesn’t love cake?


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