FAFSA: What You Need To Know
What Military and Veterans Need to Know About FAFSA
FAFSA is an important part of paying for college. FAFSA stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. With FAFSA, you can find money for college in the form of federal grants, work-study, and loans. Completing and submitting the FAFSA is free and easy to do online. In addition to federal student aid, many states and colleges will use your FAFSA information to determine your eligibility for state and school aid as well as some private financial aid providers.
Who is eligible for FAFSA?
You must meet the basic requirements to qualify for federal student aid, but additional eligibility requirements apply for certain people and situations.
In order to qualify for FAFSA, you:
- Have a financial need for most programs
- Must be a US citizen or an eligible non-citizen
- Need to be enrolled as a regular student in an eligible degree or certificate program at your college or career school
- Need to have a valid social security number (with the exception of students from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau)
- Must be enrolled at least half-time to be eligible for the Direct Loan Program funds
- Must maintain satisfactory academic progress in college or career school
- Have to sign the certification statement
- Will have to show that you are qualified to obtain a college or career school education.
* Males must be registered with Selective Service
Keep in mind that there is no income cut-off to qualify for federal student aid. However, many factors such as the size of your family and your year in school are taken into account.
If your parent died as a result of military service in Iraq and Afghanistan after the events of 9/11, you might be eligible for additional Federal Pell Grant funding or for an Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant.
Can you lose your FAFSA eligibility?
You can lose your FAFSA eligibility. The most common reasons this can happen is if you:
- Are in default on a federal student loan.
- Don’t maintain satisfactory academic process in college or career school.
- Are convicted of a drug offense.
What information do you need to complete your FAFSA form?
Your FAFSA form can be filled out online but you will need to have specific information to do so. Here is what you need:
- FSA ID, which is a username and password that you can use to log into the Department of Education websites. You can create your username and password to get started.
- Social security number.
- Driver’s license number. If you don’t have one, then you don’t have to worry about this step.
- Tax records. The year depends on the year that you are applying. For the 2019-2020 school year you would use your 2017 tax records. You can import these taxes with the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT)
- Records of your untaxed income. This may or may not apply and has to do with things like child support, interest income, and veterans noneducation benefits.
- Records of your assets. This would be savings and checking account balances, as well as the value of investments such as stocks and bonds and real estate. These would be the current amounts on the date you sign the FAFSA, instead of reporting the 2017 tax year amounts.
- The list of the schools you are interested in attending. You will need to add any college you are thinking about going to, even if you haven’t applied or been accepted yet. You can list up to 10 schools at a time. Some states might require you to list the school in a specific order.
If you are a dependent student, you will need the information above for your parents as well.
When are the FAFSA deadlines?
2022–23 Academic Year Federal FAFSA Deadline
The FAFSA form must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. Central time (CT) on June 30, 2023. Any corrections or updates must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. CT on Sept. 10, 2023.
2021–22 Academic Year Federal FAFSA Deadline
The FAFSA form must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. Central time (CT) on June 30, 2022. Any corrections or updates must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. CT on Sept. 10, 2022.
College FAFSA Deadlines
Each college may have its own deadline. Check with the college(s) you’re interested in attending. You may also want to ask your college about its definition of an application deadline. “Is it the date your FAFSA form is processed or the date the college receives your processed FAFSA data?”
Do you have to apply to FAFSA every year?
You do have to apply for FAFSA every year that you plan to attend school. You can complete a Renewal FAFSA, with having many of the questions pre-filled with information you have previously provided. You can also start fresh if you would like to.
What type of aid will FAFSA provide?
With FAFSA, you can receive different types of aid. You can qualify for grants, which you don’t have to repay unless you withdraw from school, work-study, which is a work program where you earn money for school, and loans, which you borrow and will need to pay back with interest. Federal student aid covers expenses such as tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation. It can also sometimes pay for other related expenses such as a computer, and dependent care.
How does the government decide how much aid I will receive?
Your eligibility depends on your Expected Family Contribution, your year in school, your enrollment status, and the cost of attendance at the school you will be attending. The financial aid office at your college or career school will determine how much financial aid you are eligible to receive. They will start by deciding upon your cost of attendance (COA) at that school, they then consider your Expected Family Contribution (EFC,) they will subtract your EFC from your COA to determine the amount of your financial need and therefore how much need-based aid you can get. They then determine how much non-need-based aid you can get and the school also takes your cost of attendance and subtracts any financial aid you have already been awarded.
Can veterans still apply for FAFSA if they can also get the GI Bill?
Yes they can. Even if someone is receiving a GI Bill, they can still receive federal benefits as well.
Filling out the FAFSA is free and can be done online. Remember to start with creating your username and password. Visit the website here.
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About the author
Julie Provost is a freelance writer, blogger, and owner of Soldier's Wife, Crazy Life, a support blog for military spouses. She lives in Tennessee with her National Guard husband and three boys.