Get to know your FAFSA
The FAFSA is the application that may affect your education and finances for many years to come. The FAFSA is completed by students and their parents and submitted to the US Department of Education. The sooner you complete the FAFSA, the sooner you will find out your eligibility for federal student loans.
The FAFSA is the primary tool for determining your eligibility for student aid. It works by:
- Calculating your family's financial aid eligibility by collecting all the relevant personal and financial information.
- Checking with all the relevant government agencies to discover or ensure your eligibility for financial aid.
A copy of your FAFSA is forwarded (in electronic version) to all the schools you specify on the FAFSA application.
How the FAFSA works
The FAFSA provides all input that will generate your Student Aid Report (SAR). The SAR will tell you your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) among other things. The EFC is the key to the FAFSA.
The formula for your EFC is somewhat complicated. It involves about 40 pages of math. In essence, your entire FAFSA is reduced to a basic formula. All scholarships, federal financial aid and all other sources of financing are subtracted from your entire school cost. The remainder after this will be your expected family contribution (EFC). There is a bit more detail concerning calculation of your financial need. [What is Financial Need?]
To complete your FAFSA
In order to complete your FAFSA you will need the following:
- A complete record of income earned in the year prior to starting school
- A completed record of your parents' income, unless you are independent
- A complete record of your spouse's income (if you are married, of course)
- Your Social Security Number
- You driver's license number
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