If you’ve been involved in the college search process with your student for even a short time, you’re probably aware of the FAFSA — the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA reveals how much federal grant, scholarship and loan money your student is eligible for to help them pay for college.
It usually takes less than an hour to complete the FAFSA (pro tip: you might want to help your student fill it out). But what happens once your student clicks “Submit?”
First, your student’s FAFSA gets processed by the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid office. The schools that your student listed on the FAFSA are then notified.
Student Aid Report
Next, your student will receive a Student Aid Report, which summarizes the information they submitted on the FAFSA. If anything is incorrect, they can use their FSA ID to change the information on their form.
The schools your student picked on the FAFSA then receive the FAFSA information and use it to determine how much financial aid your student is eligible to receive. And if you’re wondering about the Expected Family Contribution that you may have noticed on the FAFSA, it’s used to determine eligibility and does not mean that you have to contribute that amount.
Your student may be asked to verify some information on their FAFSA. It’s nothing to worry about, it just means the government needs a few more details from you or your student. You’ll be notified if verification is required. And if you’re unsure about what you’re being asked to verify, contact your student’s university and they’ll help you.
Finally (and this is the best part), your student will receive an award letter that explains the aid they are eligible to receive. What if multiple schools offer your student money (a terrible problem to have, we know)? Don’t worry, your student will have time to think it over and accept the package and school that is best for them.
And keep in mind, the earlier your student submits the FAFSA, the more aid they are likely to be eligible for. So encourage them to get started on it soon. Good luck!