The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is your first step in applying to college and your first step in applying for scholarships, grants, and loans. Essentially, it is a form that tells the government how much money you (yes, you) and your guardians make in a year. That number, run through their programs, gives you (and anyone you apply to) your Expected Family Contribution, or EFC.
This is the number that describes how much your family can be expected to contribute each year to paying for your education. It is always just a bit too much, but that is why we have scholarships.
How to Complete Your FAFSA
We will have a representative from the state make a presentation on just this subject in the fall, so keep an eye on the calendar.
If you're really excited to make it happen, though, here is a quick overview:
- Grab your Social Security Card, go to fsaid.ed.gov, fill out the form, and get an FSA ID. Then have a guardian do the same thing. Do not lose the login information and do not publish it. It could be used to take out loans in your names.Your names must match your Social Security cards exactly, as do your SSNs. An error here can be fixed, but it requires using a mailbox.
- Go to FAFSA.ed.gov double-check that you're on a government site, as there are plenty of websites offering to make this process easy for a fee. It is already quite easy, and the F stands for Free.
- Click "Start a New FAFSA." You can pause the process at any time and come back, but the application should not take longer than 30 minutes.
- You will be asked to answer questions about the number of people living in your house, their age, and broad questions about income and savings. You'll also be asked which universities you would like to receive this information. If possible, use the IRS Data Retrieval tool to pull last year's tax return information into your FAFSA so you don't have to type it.
- Once you and your guardian have entered all the necessary information, you'll "sign" it with your FSA IDs.
- In a few days you'll receive an email with an SAR or Student Aid Report. This contains your expected family contribution. Most important, this information will be sent to the universities you chose. In a few weeks you'll receive financial aid offers from them, containing scholarships, grants, and loans to help you pay for your schooling.
As always, email me if you have a question. If you would like to go straight to the source, contact OCAP at their website
- The organization in Oklahoma set up to help students apply to college is called StartwithFAFSA.org.