By Sarah Hoffbeck
With the month of January just around the corner, pretty soon you’ll become bombarded with information pertaining to tax season. And if you’re the parent of a college-aged student, now is also the time when the dreaded FAFSA must be completed.
Never heard of FAFSA? FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid and is basically a document you fill out to see if your student qualifies for federal college loans and/or grants.
The office of Federal Student Aid provides grants, loans and work-study funds for college and offers more than $150 billion each year to help millions of students pay for higher education. Processing over 21 million FAFSA submissions a year, the office of Federal Student Aid, which is part of the U.S. Department of Education, is the largest provider of student financial aid in the United States.
Who Gets Aid
Worried your student won’t qualify for aid? Most students are eligible for some type of aid. Here are some of the basic eligibility criteria for the federal student aid program.
- You must have financial need
- You must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
- You must be enrolled in an eligible degree/certificate program at your college
Types of Aid
Financial aid is money to help pay for college and can come from a variety of sources, including grants or loans. While a grant is basically free money and does not need to be repaid, a loan is money you borrow and must pay back with interest. The following are common grants and loans your student may qualify for after completing the FAFSA:
- Federal Pell Grants
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG)
- Direct Loans from the U.S. Department of Education (Subsidized, Unsubsidized, PLUS, Consolidation)
- Federal Perkins Loan Program
Filling Out the FAFSA
While it’s true that filling out the FAFSA is a bit time-consuming, it is time well spent. Check out this video to learn how to complete your FAFSA today: