Applying for the FAFSA

This is something you normally don’t hear about until after you’ve applied for college or, in rare cases, when you walk into the Financial Aid office at you college and are told that you need to apply for a FAFSA before you can do anything else. “A FAFSA?” you may ask with bewilderment, “why the heck do I have to apply for that?!”

A FAFSA is a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (dumb acronym, I know), but what is it exactly? My definition of the FAFSA is a ravenous creature that devours all of your and your family’s personal information and a good chunk of your free time every year and poops out money on rare occasions, if it’s feeling generous enough. If you want the real definition, here’s a brief overview:

The FAFSA your only ticket to applying for any financial aid, such as scholarships, grants, and, um….right, loans. Loans are fairly easy to get a hold of (unfortunately), but scholarships and grants can be a little more difficult. If you send your application early enough, can qualify for some of the grants that are available, but since you’re most likely under 24, and you can’t file as an independent otherwise, your financial need will be based off your EFC (Expected Family Contribution). This significantly hurts your chances of receiving any kind of financial aid.

So anyway, how do you fill one out? Glad you asked:

First, you will need a PIN, which you can apply for here. Like the video says, you’ll be asked to fill in you personal information, parental information, and financial information. They provide you with a tool that automatically retrieves your information from the IRS and fills in the numbers for you. If that doesn’t work though, and you don’t have it on you, you may have to look it up through your tax filing agency (i.e. H&R Block, or request a transcript from the IRS. If you didn’t work in the past your, or you’ve never held a job before in your life, then, well, don’t worry about it. Again, unless under special circumstances, if you’re under 24, you’re considered a dependent and your parents will be required to fill out their information and sign the application as well. If it makes it easier, you can always just give your parents your login information and let them do all that themselves. That way, you only have to worry about information that you already know.