Ever since the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) opened up for the 2021-22 academic year on October 1st, I have been surrounded by a cloud of confusion. What even is the FAFSA? Do I need to apply? Where do I apply? So, I sat down, turned on some music, and conducted research. Here is what I now know: The FAFSA, is the request form for grants, loans, and work-study funds provided by the Federal Government. The form is also used by many states and individual colleges to determine financial aid eligibility. As the name suggests, the FAFSA is entirely free to fill out and submit. Though students have an option to fill out the form by hand, the majority of people complete it online. Simply go to StudentAid.gov to begin filling out the form. It takes most people about 30 minutes to complete the application.The FAFSA is available in both English and Spanish. If you don’t understand a question or are confused by the wording, utilize the help and hints box on the right hand side of the application. The online chat feature under “help” can be another great resource to get some of your questions answered. If you need additional help, reach out to your high school guidance counselor!Before you begin the process of filling out the FAFSA, you should also create a username and password called a FSA ID. This ID will be your electronic signature. You only need to create an FSA ID once; you can reuse it each year you apply for financial aid. If your parents are providing any information, they will need to create an FSA ID as well. When you finish filling out the application, you use the FSA ID to sign the form.
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