December 26th, 2008 Jamie
New Year’s Day is close at hand, and while you’re busy making goals to burn off all the goodies you munched over the holiday break, why not add one goal to help you pay for college?
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (a.k.a. the FAFSA)
I’m almost absolutely positive that you DON’T WANT to file the FAFSA–who wants to spend a perfectly good afternoon filling out tedious forms? But according to our paying-for-college guru Deborah Fox, spending a few short hours on the FAFSA could potentially mean getting some free money.
What Kind of Money Can I Get?
The FAFSA helps the government determine who is eligible for government grants (free money), work-study (jobs that help pay for school), AND federal student loans (which have to be paid back).
In fact, it is the only way for you to apply for federal student loans, which tend to have lower interest rates (so less to pay back) and better protections of your rights as a borrower than private student loans (like the ones you see advertised on TV).
What does that mean? Well basically, no matter how much you or your parents make, you should DEFINITELY apply for the FAFSA!
Also many schools determine who is eligible for their own private grants and scholarships based on the FAFSA, so it is a great tool to open yourself up to lots of financial aid possibilities.
What Do I Need to Know to Prepare?
Okay, so if you don’t think you’ll be likely to file the FAFSA yourself, you might want to pass this info on to your parents. Here are a few things you need to know about filing the FAFSA:
- File as Soon after January 1st as possible. The earlier you file, the more likely you are to receive grants (the free money).
- File even if you are…
- A high school senior (you’re filing for your first year of college which will start in Fall)
- A college student (unless you are in your last year and won’t be doing grad school)
- A grad or med student (you may not get grants but will be eligible for loans)
- Check out this top five list from the Pay for College Blog: What You Need to Know About How to File the FAFSA
This can make a huge difference in your college budget this year, so make sure you or your parents file it ASAP!!!
Entry Filed under: paying for college