FAFSA Basics and Paying for College 101

FAFSA Isn't Scary Video

FAFSA is an acronym for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It is an application that U.S. Citizens and permanent residents can fill out to see how much federal financial aid they qualify for. There are quite a few myths about it, so it is important that students seek out advice from reputable sources, including college admissions counselors, guidance counselors, career counselors, and financial aid officers. EVERY STUDENT'S FINANCIAL SITUATION IS DIFFERENT; therefore, one does not truly know what factors may effect the amount or eligibility of financial student aid. 

Here are some basic facts regarding the FAFSA:

*The application will open October 1st, 2016. Students entering college in fall 2017, spring 2018, or summer 2018 will need to complete it during this time period. Students will use 2015 tax information. Students are typically going to need parental tax information. One parent will have to create an FSA ID. 

*It can only be completed on www.fafsa.gov. Make sure the address is correct! There are other sites that are similar that will charge students to complete this free application. Be wise!

*Many schools require students to complete the FAFSA even before they will award them scholarship based on academics/merit!

*Only U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents are eligible to receive grants or student loans from the U.S. Government. 


You can access "Guide to the FAFSA" by clicking this link.

If you need help completing your FAFSA, you and your student can come to the 
Career Center during school hours. Also, CollegeCovered.com/Assist provides 
free interactive tools, articles, and resources to assist in FAFSA completion. 

Paying for College 101

Families that want to get schooled on the smart way to finance a degree should consider these rules:


1.    STUDENTS ALWAYS borrow before parents.  Always.


2.    STUDENTS USE federal Stafford loans.  These are fixed-rate loans with flexible repayment terms, and everyone, regardless of financial need, is eligible.


3.    STUDENTS BORROW no more than they expect to make at their first job.  Financial aid expert Mark Kantrowitz (finaid.org) has found that when total debt exceeds your starting annual salary, the odds of defaulting go way up.


4.    IF THE STAFFORD LOAN limits ($5,500 to $7,500 for a dependent undergraduate) don’t cover what the student needs, don’t be tempted by private loans.


5.    PARENTS BORROW ONLY if their retirement savings are on track.  No ifs, ands, or buts.


6.    PARENTS BORROW ONLY through the federal PLUS program, which offers fixed-rate loans with flexible repayment options.


7.    IF THE STUDENT STILL can’t swing it, consider a less expensive school.  Parents and students should not be willing to take on massive debt.