What is the FAFSA?

Who knows what the FAFSA is? [Bonus points if you know what all the letters stand for.]

Who loves the FAFSA? [crickets]

The FAFSA is an application for aid. It’s THE single most important thing you can do if you want to receive financial aid for college. And yet, two million students who could have—and should have—tackled the FAFSA just didn’t do it last year. $24 BILLION unclaimed college dollars. That’s crazy when you think about it.

We’re not asking you to love the FAFSA. We ARE asking you not to leave college money on the table.

The FAFSA had a special occasion this week, because it opened up on October 1st for students who are looking for financial aid for next school year: 2019-20. [That’s your cue.] Help FAFSA celebrate this special occasion and knock this one off your college to-do list right now. Seriously, all that college money goes to students who are first in line for it. Why would you miss out?

Here are some things that you CAN love about the FAFSA:

  • It’s the first step for getting a Pell Grant (doesn’t need to be repaid), and this can be a good chunk of money: the annual maximum award for a Pell Grant in the 2018-19 school year= $6,095

  • It’s free to complete [DON’T pay to submit the application.]

  • There’s a nifty mobile app now that you can use (see our Sept. 4 newsletter)

  • Dodge the most common mistakes with this list.

  • In many states, you can find free workshops with knowledgeable volunteers who can help you fill out the form. Ask your counselor or try searching “College Goal [your state]”

Action step: Set up your FSA ID on the FAFSA website and then keep it in a safe (and memorable) place—you will need this ID every year that you fill out the FAFSA. You can watch this video with really rousing music on how to create the FSA ID, or you can quietly read this tip sheet.