A FAFSA primer - 05/13/2022
Updated: Jul 29
For those of you with a student in college, you have probably already been exposed to the FAFSA form. For those of you with younger children, or who are considering going back to college yourself, you may only be vaguely familiar with the concept of the FAFSA form. This post is a FAFSA primer, I will write more specific information closer to the start of the FAFSA application period starting October 1, 2022 for school year 2023/2024.
FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. For each year of college, if you want to apply to receive any kind of financial aid (federal grants, work-study, or loans excluding private loans) you need to fill out the FAFSA form. The FAFSA form itself is not a loan and does not guarantee any particular result. It is where the information for eligibility is gathered, and the result of filling out the form will be a letter that lists your eligibility amounts for each of various types of financial aid.
The FAFSA form (as of the time this is written) becomes available on October 1 for the following school year, and remains available until June 30 of the end of that school year. For example, for school year 22/23, you could fill out the form between October 1, 2021 and June 30, 2023. Be aware that schools may have their own deadlines for their scholarships and there is a limited amount of funds available so I recommend filing as soon as you are able to. Since it is based on the tax return of the prior year, for 22/23 it is based on the 2020 tax return, you should have access to the information you need by the time the form is available.
Even if you don't think you (or your student) will be eligible for need-based aid, some merit-based scholarships requires the FAFSA form.
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