2021-2022 FAFSA Guide
The FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid and it's one of the most important steps to take to go to college. As always, if you and your family run into problems or are in a special situation you're not sure how to handle on the FAFSA, please send me an email and I would be more than happy to walk you through it individually. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Step By Step Guide:
1. Create an FSA-ID and log in to begin the 2021-2022 FAFSA. It will ask you to make a save key, which is just an extra password for this specific FAFSA so that a parent can log in. Both you and a parent will need to create an FSA-ID (unless your parent already has one, which would happen if an older sibling has completed FAFSA before). If neither parent has a social security number, they will not be able to create an FSA-ID, but they can print and mail a signature page when it comes time to sign and submit the FAFSA.
2. Student Demographics
-What is an eligible non-citizen? -What's the Selective Service? -Should I say "yes" to Work Study? -How do I know what to put for my parents' education level?
3. School Selection
How many schools should I put, and how do I find my college? (If you get really stuck finding a college on FAFSA, you can just google "[name of school] federal FAFSA code" and it will tell you the six-digit code to enter).
4. Dependency Status
Your dependency status on FAFSA isn't linked to whether or not your parents claimed you as a dependent on their taxes, so don't worry about that! FAFSA is going to ask you about whether or not you have kids or dependents of your own, whether you're married, in the armed forces, or homeless. Different living situations may qualify you as homeless, so watch the video for more information about completing this section.
Be aware that you will be required to put parents on your FAFSA even if they cannot or will not pay for your college. See me if you're in that situation!
5. Parent Demographics
Who is my parent on FAFSA?
6. Parent Financials
Use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool if at all possible!! Your parent will need to go in and link the IRS to the FAFSA. This will save you a lot of time and decreases the chances that you will later have to provide OTHER documents to the colleges you've applied to. Parents without social security numbers are not eligible, as are parents who did not file taxes. This video walks you through how to complete this section if you're not able to use the DRT, and how to answer the questions that don't appear on your 2019 IRS tax return.
7. Student Financials
If you file taxes, this will be very similar to Parent Financials. Most students don't make enough to pay taxes, but do work. I will show you how to complete this section if you work a part-time job or did at any point in 2019.
8. Sign & Submit
You AND one of your parents must use your individual FSA-ID accounts to sign the FAFSA, and this makes it a legally binding document. If your parents don't have a social security number, they won't be able to make an FSA-ID of their own, but you can print and mail a signature page.
9. Confirmation, Understanding Your Student Aid Report and What To Do Next
Completing your FAFSA is pretty anticlimactic, but I will show you the secret way you can see almost exactly how much financial aid you'll actually get based on your FAFSA. The key is your EFC (Expected Family Contribution).
Q: Why complete FAFSA?
A: FAFSA is the main way to get money for college. It qualifies you for:
- Pell Grants - free money from the federal government for students whose families make under around $60,000 a year
- NC College Grants - extra free money from the state for students who get Pell grants
- Institutional Aid - money you get from colleges that accept you (the amount will be different for every college)
- Federal Loans - loans (money you have to pay back) that have lower interest rates, so you pay less over time than you would if you took out a private loan. I took out about $20,000 in federal loans to go to college, so please let me know if you ever want to talk about whether or not you should take out loans and I'll give you an honest answer!
Q: How can I get help?
A: Meet with me or send me an email! email@example.com
There are no dumb questions when it comes to FAFSA, and if you want we can do the whole thing together over Google Meet!
Q: Am I the only one who doesn't already know how to do this?
A: NO!! You've never done this before, so you don't need to already know how to do it! I'm here to help every step of the way, and know that you're not behind or missing something.
Q: How can I estimate how much I'll have to pay for my colleges?
A: Use a financial aid award calculator! You can estimate EXACTLY how much aid, loans, and how much your family will have to pay for each college by googling "[name of college] financial aid award calculator", entering a few pieces of information about you and your family, and clicking "submit"! All colleges are required to have a financial aid calculator on their website.