The FAFSA is a critical element in the college planning process. It is attached to all of the federal grants that students are eligible to obtain. Let’s start off by explaining what the FAFSA is and some vocab words you should know along with it.
- FAFSA– Free Application for Federal Student Aid. In simple terms, it is the form used to determine the amount of money a family is expected to pay for college.
- COA (Cost Of Attendance)- Tuition, fees, books, room, board, etc.
- SAR (Student Aid Report)- This is based on the FAFSA and it clearly states what your Federal Aid eligibility will be.
- EFC (Estimated Family Contribution)- This too is based on the FAFSA and it is the estimate of what the family can contribute to the COA.**** COA- EFC= Need****
Now that we got the basics out of the way, it is time to give you our critical steps BEFORE you fill out your FAFSA for record.
Everything you need to know is on the their website. It can take you days to sort through BUT it is all there. LOOK through the site thoroughly before you start the process. There are video tutorials and PDF’s that can really help you understand the process before you start anything.
Even though you will be filing it out online, it is crucial that you print out the electronic copy available on the website and handwrite the information beforehand. This is an additional step but it is worth it. Many people lose out on thousands of dollars in federal aid each year because they fill out the FAFSA incorrectly. This will make it fool proof because you have done all of the heavy lifting before you hit the submit button.
Go to the FAFSA4Caster. It is extremely important that you do this step. The FAFSA4Caster is a tool that allows you to practice filling out the FAFSA before you submit it for federal review. This is the step where you can figure out the exact financial recipe before you submit it to the government.
Once you have done these 3 critical steps, you are then ready to complete it for record. Good Luck!!