The FAFSA is the First Step in the Financial Aid Process but What is It?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step in the college financial aid process. It must be completed every year by students seeking financial aid. Financial aid includes grants, scholarships, work-study programs and student loans. The application is free to complete. Don’t let anyone scam you and offer to complete it for a fee.

Most financial aid is based on financial need. Financial need is the difference between the college’s cost of attendance and your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The cost of attendance is determined by the school and includes tuition and fees, books, supplies, room and board, personal expenses and transportation.

The EFC is calculated from the information you put on the FAFSA. It is affected by dependency status, household size, income, assets and the number of household members enrolled in college or trade schools.

Cost of attending school – Expected Family Contribution = Financial need

Some people mistakenly believe they won’t qualify for financial aid because they make too much money or have too many assets. Almost every student qualifies for an unsubsidized Federal Direct Student Loan, so it is important to complete the FAFSA. Even if a student loan isn’t necessary, it’s a good idea to complete the application because it will identify any grants or scholarships available to you.