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While the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form is the student’s application, we know that parents often play a large role in the process. After all, students who are considered dependent have to provide parental information on the FAFSA form anyway and must have a parent sign it. While we recommend that the student start his or her own FAFSA form, we know that’s not always what happens. With that in mind, we wanted to provide instructions for parents who are starting the FAFSA form on behalf of their child so you can avoid running into issues completing the form.
If you are a parent completing the FAFSA form for your child, follow these steps:
1. Create an account (FSA ID).
An FSA ID is a username and password you use on Federal Student Aid websites such as fafsa.gov and StudentLoans.gov. If your child is considered a dependent student, two unique FSA IDs are needed to complete the FAFSA form online:
- Parent’s FSA ID
- Student’s FSA ID
We recommend that you and your child register for FSA IDs ahead of time, so you don’t experience delays later in the process.
You and your child should create your FSA IDs now at StudentAid.gov/fsaid.
Your FSA ID serves as your legal electronic signature throughout the federal student aid process. Do not share your FSA ID with anyone, not even your child. Your child should also not share his or her FSA ID with you. Keep your FSA ID information in a safe place. You’ll need it to renew your FAFSA form each year and to access federal student aid information online.
2. Start the FAFSA® form at fafsa.gov.
- Go to fafsa.gov and click “Start A New FAFSA.”
- Once on the log-in page, you will see two options. If you are starting the FAFSA form on behalf of your child, choose the option on the right, “Enter the student’s information.” Do not choose the option on the left, “Enter your (the student’s) FSA ID.”
- Enter your child’s name, Social Security number, and date of birth. Then, click next.
- Choose which FAFSA form you’d like to complete.
2018–19 FAFSA form if your child will be attending college between July 1, 2018, and June 30, 2019.
2017–18 FAFSA form if your child will be attending college between July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2018.
Both: If your child will be attending college during both time periods and hasn’t completed the 2017–18 FAFSA form yet, complete that first, wait until it processes (one to three days), then go back in and complete the 2018–19 FAFSA form after.
- Create a save key. A save key is a temporary password that allows you and your child to “pass” the FAFSA form back and forth. It also allows you to save your child’s FAFSA form and return to it later. Once you create a save key, share it with your child. He or she will need it to complete later steps.
IMPORTANT: The FAFSA® form is the student’s application, not yours. When the FAFSA form says “you” or “your,” it’s referring to the student. Pay attention to whether you’re being asked for student or parent information. When in doubt, the banner on the left side will indicate whether you’re on a student (blue) page or parent (purple) page.
3. Fill out the Student Demographics section.
Here’s where you’ll enter basic demographic information about your child, such as name, date of birth, etc. If you chose the FAFSA renewal option in step two, a lot of his or her personal information will be pre-populated to save you time. Make sure you enter your child’s personal information exactly as it appears on his or her Social Security card so you don’t encounter any errors. (That’s right, no nicknames.)
4. List the schools to which you want your FAFSA® information sent.
In the School Selection section, you’ll add all the schools you want to receive your child’s information. It is important that you add every school your child is considering, even if he or she hasn’t applied or been accepted yet. It doesn’t hurt to add more schools; colleges can’t see the other schools that have been added. In fact, you don’t even have to remove schools if your child later decides not to apply or attend. If your child doesn’t end up applying or getting accepted to a school, the school can just disregard his or her FAFSA form. You can remove schools at any time to make room for new schools. You can add up to 10 schools at a time. If your child is applying to more than 10 schools, here’s what you should do.
5. Answer the dependency status questions.
In this section, you’ll be asked a series of specific questions to determine whether or not your child is required to provide your (parent) information on the FAFSA form.
Congrats on finishing! Your child is one step closer to getting money for college. With the hard part over, learn what your child should do next after submitting the FAFSA form.
Nicole Callahan is a Digital Engagement Strategist at the U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid.
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Undocumented immigrants are ineligible for federal funds, but you can still get aid from your university. Some states allow undocumented immigrants to obtain in-state tuition, and undocumented students are eligible for some private scholarships as well. Some schools even offer aid specifically for undocumented immigrants. Berkeley offers $1 million in a scholarship fund earmarked for undocumented immigrants.
Texas, California, New York, Illinois, Utah, Nebraska, Washington, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Kansas and Maryland (only for community colleges) have state laws allowing undocumented immigrants who have attended 3 years of high school in the state to qualify for in-state tuition. Many more states are considering legislation on the issue, so ask your university if you are eligible for in-state tuition.
Steps for filling out the FAFSA for undocumented immigrants
- Do not complete the FAFSA before talking to your school’s financial aid office.
- Contact your university’s financial aid office and explain your situation; see if they have university-specific advice or protocols. They may ask you to fill out the FAFSA with a Social Security number of 000-00-0000 to obtain an Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which they may use to determine your aid award. Some states have passed their own version of the Dream Act, so they may ask you to fill out their state Dream Act paperwork instead of a FAFSA.
- If you are applying to a school that offers in-state tuition, ask the financial aid office if you can qualify for the reduced in-state tuition rate.
- Apply for private scholarships and grants. Some private lenders may allow you to borrow a student loan with a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen.
Advice from University Financial Aid Officers
Unfortunately, federal financial aid is unavailable for undocumented students. There are some states that offer in-state tuition and some grants even for undocumented immigrants. Please contact the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend for more information. There are also some scholarships that do not require legal residency status third federal savings and loan reviews
— Marco Siliezar, Financial Aid Analyst at California State University’s California Maritime Academy
>>MORE: International Student Loans: Compare options for 2018
Go back to the FAFSA guide
Do the FAFSA - govst.edu
By submitting the FAFSA, students are able to apply for a variety of financial aid programs, including federal grants and student loans.
Nearly all colleges and universities rely on the FAFSA to determine financial aid awards, and the Department of Education through the Office of Federal Student Aid is responsible for processing new applications each year.
Here’s how the FAFSA got started, how it works, and the financial aid available to students and their families through the FAFSA.
The role of the federal government in higher education has a longstanding history, but the FAFSA has not always been an integral part of the relationship between the Department of Education and students.
In 1954, the first national organization focused on financial aid was established. The College Scholarship Service (CSS) was intended to help students identify types of aid available to them, through a series of forms like the Parent’s Confidential Statement, or PCS, and the Student Financial Statement, or SFS.
It wasn’t until 1966 when the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) was established to help streamline the process of determining aid for students. It took another decade to see the introduction of the Financial Aid Form from the CSS and NASFAA as a simpler way to apply for aid. Finally, in 1992, the FAFSA was added to higher education mandates and was required to be free to students.
The FAFSA was made available online for the first time in 1997, and since that time, millions of students and their parents have went online to apply for federal financial aid for college. Each year, it is estimated that $150 billion is awarded to students through the FAFSA process today.
The FAFSA may be a bit daunting at first, but it is necessary if a student is to receive federal financial aid. All individuals who are on their way to college, either for the first time or as a returning student in an undergraduate, graduate, or professional degree program are eligible to complete the FAFSA. Even those who believe they won’t qualify for financial aid because of their financial circumstances or means are encouraged to go through the process. Note that the FAFSA only will help students with federal financial aid, it is not affiliated with other private student loan providers.
The FAFSA needs to be completed before the start of each school year so that a determination of available financial aid can be made. The deadline for completing the FAFSA is June 30 each year, and the application opens to the public on October 1 the year prior.
There is no requirement to know the specific school a student will attend in the upcoming school year, but it is important to have an idea of the colleges and universities an individual plans to apply for when filling out the FAFSA. In addition, students should take the time to gather specific information, including:
With this information, the Department of Education is able to determine a student’s expected family contribution, or EFC. This is the calculation that represents the ability of a student or her family to pay for higher education costs as well as a need-based eligibility for federal student aid.
The EFC along with eligible federal aid funds are laid out within the Student Aid Report (SAR), provided to students once the review of the FAFSA is complete. From there, the specific school(s) a student applied to will provide an award letter that details the types of funding available and in what amounts.
How to Fill Out the FAFSA
Completing the FAFSA can be accomplished in several different ways, including online, via downloaded PDF, or by requesting a printed FAFSA directly from the Department of Education.
The online method is the most streamlined for students since instructions and tips are provided throughout the process. Students simply navigate to the FAFSA website to get started.
Alternatively, students may download the appropriate FAFSA form in a PDF to complete offline. The same information is required as in the online process, but any PDF version of the application must ultimately be printed and mailed in for processing.
Students may also request a printed version of the FAFSA be sent directly to them via mail. The same process as the PDF option is required to complete a print and mail FAFSA.
Once a FAFSA is completed, the Department of Education sends out the SAR between three days and three weeks after receiving a completed submission. The final award letter from the college or university will arrive after the SAR is received, but the timeframe varies from school to school.
There are several types of financial aid that may be awarded through the FAFSA, including federal student loans, grants and scholarships, and other aid like work-study programs.
It is important for students and their families to understand the types of federal student aid they are eligible to receive, how they work, and what is required in terms of repayment over time.
Each student has the potential to receive one or more types of federal student aid through the FAFSA based on his or her dependent status, expected family contribution, and financial need.
Federal Student Loans
Federal student loans are funds offered to qualified undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree students that must be repaid over time, plus interest. As the most common type of student aid received through the FAFSA, federal student loans are beneficial in paying for college expenses that cannot be covered by individual or family savings, or other forms of federal student aid. Federal student loans come in a variety of forms, including:
There are two types of Stafford loans made available to students who submit the FAFSA: Direct subsidized and Direct unsubsidized loans. Direct subsidized loans are funds borrowed from the Department of Education to undergraduate students who are able to show a financial need related to earning a degree.
Subsidized loans have somewhat better terms than unsubsidized loans, mainly because the Department of Education pays the interest on these loans while a student is in school and during a six-month grace period after leaving school.
Unsubsidized loans are also made available through the FAFSA, but they are offered to undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree students. Interest accumulates on an unsubsidized loan from the time the funds are dispersed.
The total cost of unsubsidized loans can be far greater than subsidized loans, but the total amount available to borrow is higher for unsubsidized loans than it is for subsidized loans. For either type of Stafford loan, students are required to repay the balance plus interest, no matter if they graduate.
Through the federal Perkins Loans program, some students may qualify to receive low-interest federal student loans for undergraduate or graduate degrees. Based on information included in the FAFSA, Perkins loans are offered to those who can show an exceptional financial need from a participating college or university. Instead of the federal government acting as the lender, the school offering the Perkins loan collects payment from the borrower once repayment begins.
The interest rate on Perkins loans is 5%, and the total amount offered is dependent on the student’s need and fund availability from the school. Like federal Stafford loans, repayment is required once a student leaves at least half-time status at the college or university.
Parent PLUS Loans
The federal government also offers Parent PLUS loans as a form of financial aid. After completing the FAFSA, parents of eligible students may apply for a Parent PLUS loan through the Department of Education. Individuals must have strong credit history to qualify for a Parent PLUS loan, and those who receive Parent PLUS funds can expect a fixed interest rate of 7% for the life of the loan.
The total amount offered to parents through the PLUS loan program is the total cost of attendance, less any other financial aid received. Parents who borrow to help pay for their child’s college expenses are required to begin repaying a PLUS loan balance plus interest shortly after the loan funds are dispersed.
Grad PLUS Loans
Graduate level students in need of additional financial aid may qualify for a Grad PLUS loan through the FAFSA and the Department of Education. Similar to Parent PLUS loans, Grad PLUS loans require strong credit history to qualify. Graduate students receive a fixed interest rate of 7% for the life of the loan.
The total amount borrowed cannot exceed the cost of attendance minus other financial aid received. Unlike Parent PLUS loans, graduate students taking out a Grad PLUS loan may defer repayment until six months after leaving half-time status at school. Repayment of principal and interest is required, however.
Grants and Scholarships
In addition to financial aid in the form of loans, some students may qualify for grants and scholarships through the FAFSA. Grants and scholarships are funds made available to students who meet certain criteria relating to financial need, or to those who have specific skills or attributes.
Unlike federal student loans, grants and scholarships do not have to be repaid. Receiving grants and scholarships can make a significant difference in the total cost of attending school to earn a degree. The Department of Education runs several grant programs, each which require the FAFSA to be submitted in order to determine eligibility.
Federal Pell Grants
Students pursuing an undergraduate degree may qualify to receive a federal Pell grant if they have a significant financial need. The amount of a Pell grant varies for each student based on his or her cost of attendance, full or part-time status as a student, and plans to attend school for a full academic year.
In most cases, federal Pell grants do not have to be repaid so long as a student maintains enrollment in an undergraduate degree program that participates in the program.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants
The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants program, or FSEOG, is made available through participating schools to students who have an exceptional financial need. Only undergraduate students are eligible to receive FSEOG funds, and like other grants, no repayment is required so long as enrollment in an eligible undergraduate program is maintained. The total amount of each FSEOG offer varies based on the school’s level of funding and the student’s financial need.
Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grants
The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education grant program, known as TEACH, is offered to students who plan to become teachers in high-need fields located in a low-income area. Funding up to $4,000 per year is available to students who plan to complete specific coursework in the field of teaching and sign an agreement to serve at least four years in a qualified teaching environment. No repayment is required so long as the criteria for maintaining the grant are met.
Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants
Students who are ineligible to receive a federal Pell grant based on their expected family contribution and have a parent or guardian who was a member of the U.S. armed forces and passed away as a result of military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after the events of 9/11 may qualify for an Iraq and Afghanistan Service grant. Total funding received may not exceed the federal Pell grant annual limits, and no repayment is required so long as students resubmit the FAFSA each academic year.
Other Student Aid Programs
In addition to loans and grants offered by the federal government, there are other types of federal student aid individuals may qualify for by submitting the FAFSA.
Federal Work-Study Program
Both undergraduate and graduate students may qualify for a federal work-study program which provides part-time jobs to students with a financial need. During their time at school, students who participate in a federal work-study program may work on or off campus in a job that is related or unrelated to their field of study. The income received is meant to help offset the out of pocket cost of attending school, although funding varies for each school participating in the program. Only students who submit the FAFSA may be offered a federal work-study program.
State Government Aid
Submitting the FAFSA may also provide students opportunities to receive financial aid from the state in which they are a resident or where they plan to attend school. Each state has its own higher education office, and types and amounts of funding vary greatly from one state to the next.
Each school’s financial aid department evaluates student FAFSA submissions to determine what school-level aid may be available based on merit or financial need. Students will be able to view school-specific offers when they receive their award letter rv loan calculator
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A series about college financial aid for parents of high school students.
It is important to note that there are different types of financial aid available, and the majority of federal student aid is not contingent on student or parent credit history, including student loan debt the parents may have.
What types of financial aid are available
There are several types of college financial aid available. Some financial aid is based on need and some is based on merit; some has to be repaid; and some requires your child to work to earn money. Aid may be provided by the federal or state government, the college itself or charitable and private organizations. Generally, college financial aid falls into four categories: grants, scholarships, work-study programs and student loans.
How is financial aid awarded
The first step in the financial aid process is completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), usually using financial information from both the student and the parents. Parents report their adjusted gross income for the appropriate year on the FAFSA. This can be populated through the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT). There are also other questions about assets and untaxed income. Based on this information, the Department of Education calculates an Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which is then forwarded to students and their parents, as well as the selected colleges for a final aid determination.
How will my student loan debts affect my student’s financial aid
In certain financial situations, your tax preparer may be including a tax deduction for the student loan interest you are paying. This lowers your adjusted gross income and may therefore decrease your EFC. Other factors that may affect an EFC are household size, the number of household members currently attending college, and the age of each household member.
Should I pay off my own student loans before filing the FAFSA
If you have a large cash reserve, it may make sense to use it to pay down some of your student loans so that your assets are not too high. It is wise to check with a financial advisor before making such a move.
Will we be able to get student loans for my child if we have other student loan debt
Eligibility for most federal student loans does not depend on the parent’s credit history. It may, however, be more difficult for parents who don’t have a positive credit history to receive a PLUS Loan or to qualify as a cosigner on a private student loan.
Also keep in mind that it may be difficult to pay off your own student loans while trying to also pay for your child’s education. Parents should discuss the situation with their student so they will understand the impact it may have on their college choices and how to pay for school.
Jodi Okun is founder and president of College Financial Aid Advisors and a Discover Student Loans brand ambassador. Visit her website at collegefinancialaidadvisors.com. She is also the About.com Money Expert on “Paying for College,” and was recently featured as one of the “Top 30 Social Influencers in Personal Finance Wealth.” She has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Mashable, US News Education and The Huffington Post. The opinions expressed in this article are Jodi’s and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Discover Student Loans.
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