Are you taking exciting steps in your journey towards a college career? I remember when I was getting ready to start college and I was so excited to pick my school, dorm and major, I was so ready to get started! But I also remember being super stressed about money and figuring out how I was going to pay for it all. Everyone’s situation is different and their payment plans are different too, but one thing I recommend everyone do, no matter what their plan may be, is to file for FAFSA. Filing for this loan doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to accept it, but it is always good to have it as an option when the time to pay your bill comes along.
What Is FAFSA
One of the first things you should do when figuring out how to finance your education is fill out the Free Application For Student Aid (FAFSA). This is a relatively easy process that has less than ten steps! Some kind of financial aid is necessary for the majority of students out there and FAFSA is a great resource to get you started.
There are four different types of direct loans you could receive from FAFSA: direct subsidized loans, direct unsubsidized loans, direct PLUS loans, and direct consolidation loans. If you are an undergraduate student, the most that you can borrow in direct subsidized loans and direct unsubsidized loans range from $5,500 to $12,500 annually (the amount is dependent on your dependency status and what year you are in school).
Nobody likes the idea of debt and taking out a loan, but taking out loans is an investment in your future and something that the majority of students need. A few of the advantages of taking out loans through FAFSA are:
- The interest rate on federal loans is fixed and usually lower than a credit card or private loan.
- You don’t need to check your credit or have a cosigner to get the majority of federal loans.
- You don’t need to start paying them back until after you graduate.
- If you have the financial need, the government will help you out by paying the interest on some loans for you.
- There’s flexible repayment plans
- Depending on conditions and where you end up working, you may be eligible for student loan forgiveness.
As you can see, there are a lot of positives to filing for FAFSA. My advice is to evaluate all of your options, do your research, and make sure you are keeping track of how much you borrow. Keeping track is important so that the total amount is not a shock once you graduate and making a plan to pay it back may be easier.
When Should I File?
FAFSA is distributed on a first come first serve basis, so it is important to apply ASAP for each academic year. FAFSA opens up on October 1st every year and the federal deadline for submitting is June 30th. Like I mentioned before, FAFSA is awarded on a ‘first come first serve’ basis, so it is smart to submit your application much sooner than June 30th. The earlier you file, the higher amount of aid you may receive.
How To File
The application process should take less than an hour and there are 7 easy steps to applying for FAFSA!
- Prepare all important information needed for the application
- Family size and income
- Personal income
- List of what colleges you’re applying to
- Your social security number
This step will take about 10 minutes and will be made unique to you. If parents would also like access, they will make a separate FSA ID that they use to link to and access their students FAFSA account.
- Use the FSA ID to open the application then fill in the student information
This portion requires you to fill out your name, age, birthday, and other demographic information. This section will also ask about what schools you are applying to so it can tell you the maximum amount of aid you are eligible for at each school.
- Next, enter in the parent information
This portion will ask for parent information like their names, mailing address, and other information that you can fill out for them, or have them fill out themselves.
- Enter in financial information
This section will ask for your household’s financial information including the income of you and your parents. For this portion it is a good idea to reference your taxes from the previous year to get the most accurate results.
- Review the FAFSA Application then sign it
Before you sign and submit the form, be sure to review it for accuracy and correct any mistakes you might have made.
After you have filled it out, reviewed, and signed the form, it is time to submit it! Then you’re all set and just need to wait to get your report back that will tell you what your loan eligibility is.
If you have any questions we are here to help!