Eligible students often fail to apply for aid because the process is confusing. Though if you don't apply, you may be cheating yourself out of a lot of money!
To apply for financial aid, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which includes a Student Aid Report to help determine your expected family contribution. You can download the application at FAFSA.ed.gov.
You’ll need to obtain a student and a parent PIN number. Once you obtain your digits, write it down and store it in a safe place.
Some schools also require applicants fill out the CSS Profile as part of their own financial aid process. College Board lists all the schools that need this profile filled out to award nonfederal student aid.
You must fill out a FAFSA for every year you plan on attending a university or college. That means that you have to fill one out for freshman, sophomore, junior and senior year.
Be prepared to give financial information such as family income, number of people in household and number of people going to college as well as personal information such as social security number.
List six schools you are interested in attending (these can be changed if those schools do not provide the financial support you need).
Photocopy all components of the application for your records and future reference.
In order to receive aid during the upcoming fall semesters, submit the FAFSA between January 1st and March 1st.
Many colleges need copies of your tax returns, so be sure to ask your parents to do their federal income taxes before Tax Day (April 15).
A week after sending out your FAFSA, you’ll receive a Student Aid Report (SAR). Check it over to verify that all of your information is correct. If there are problems lurking, update your info on the FAFSA site. Otherwise print your SAR out and keep it with your FAFSA records.
You will receive the results of the application, including the amount of aid you can expect to receive – this is also sent to the schools you apply to. Read and respond promptly to getting the financial aid award notification. If you want to accept (most likely you do), go for it!