How to Apply for Scholarships Through FAFSA 2022-2023 (The Best Way)
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How to Apply for Scholarships Through FAFSA:
What is the FAFSA?
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). To apply for federal student aid, such as federal grants, work-study, and loans, you need to complete the FAFSA. Completing and submitting the FAFSA is free and easier than ever, and it gives you access to the largest source of financial aid to pay for college or career school.
In addition, many states and colleges use your FAFSA information to determine your eligibility for state and school aid, and some private financial aid providers may use your FAFSA information to determine whether you qualify for their aid.
Most U.S. citizens or eligible noncitizens are eligible for financial aid for college or career school. It’s important to understand the criteria of the programs, how to stay eligible, and how to get your eligibility back if you lose it.
Eligibility requirements include that you have financial need, are a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen, and are enrolled in an eligible degree or certificate program at your college or career school. There are more eligibility requirements you must meet to qualify for federal student aid.
1. Students With a Parent Who Was Killed in Iraq or Afghanistan
If your parent died as a result of military service in Iraq or 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.
2. Non-U.S. Citizens
Generally, if you have a “green card” (in other words, if you are a permanent resident alien), you will be considered an “eligible noncitizen” and will be able to get federal student aid if you meet the other basic eligibility criteria. Learn about which immigration statuses make you an eligible noncitizen.
3. Students With Criminal Convictions
Your eligibility for federal student aid can be affected by incarceration or being subject to an involuntary civil commitment after completing a period of incarceration for a sexual offense.
4. Students With Intellectual Disabilities
Students with intellectual disabilities may receive funding from the Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, and Federal Work-Study programs in certain circumstances.
5. Homeless Students
We don’t offer a financial aid program specifically for students who are homeless. However, homeless students can receive money for college if they meet the eligibility requirements for federal student aid.
Here are some resources for students who are homeless:
- Federal Student Aid and Homeless Youth
- FAFSA® dependency status information (certain homeless students may not have to report parent information on the FAFSA form)
- I Want to Go to College: Now What?
- Identifying and Supporting Students Experiencing Homelessness from Pre-School to Post-Secondary Ages—this page is aimed at professionals assisting homeless students, but students may be interested in a few of the links that provide information about services or offices that can help.
6. Students Who Are (or Have Been) in Foster Care
We don’t offer a financial aid program specifically for students who are (or have been) in foster care. However, such students can receive money for college if they meet the eligibility requirements for federal student aid.
Here are some resources for students who are (or have been) in foster care:
- Educational and Training Vouchers for Current and Former Foster Care Youth
- FAFSA® dependency status information (certain students who are or have been in foster care may not have to report parent information on the FAFSA form)
- Foster Care Transition Toolkit.
How to Apply:
How to Fill Out the FAFSA:
The FAFSA asks for important personal identification information as well as financial information. You may be asked to provide identification and financial information for your parents as well. Details about the type of information, and documents needed to complete the application are available from Federal Student Aid.
You or your parents may be able to have your tax & income information imported directly from the IRS into your FAFSA. Learn more about providing financial information from Federal Student Aid.
For Applicants, you’ll need an FSA ID, a username and password combination that allows you to sign your FAFSA electronically. If you are a dependent student you should also have your parent request an FSA ID.
You can get your FSA ID as you fill out the application, but getting an FSA ID before you begin the FAFSA could prevent processing delays, and it only takes a few minutes to apply. You can find out more information and apply for an FSA ID.
All applicants for financial aid are considered either “independent” or “dependent.” Dependent students are required to include information about their parents on the application. By answering a few questions, you can get a good idea of which category you fit into. Visit Federal Student Aid’s page on Dependency Status for information on the difference between a dependent and an independent student, and to determine your dependency status for financial aid purposes.
The FSA ID allows students and parents to identify themselves electronically to access Federal Student Aid websites. A FSA ID contains a username and password and can be used to log into the online Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. While you are not required to have a FSA ID to complete and submit a FAFSA form, it is the fastest way to sign your application and have it processed. It is also the only way to access or correct your information online, or to prefill an online FAFSA form with information from your previous year's FAFSA form.
Federal FAFSA Deadlines
2022–23 Academic Year
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
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?
State FAFSA Deadlines
Each state has its own deadline. See the listing here.
1. What should I do if I miss the FAFSA deadline?
If you miss your college’s FAFSA deadline, contact the financial aid office. Some states and colleges award aid to latecomers.
You’ll have access to it until the end of the school year. If you don’t apply for that school year, fill out the FAFSA for the following year instead.
2. What is the Student Aid Report (SAR)?
The Student Aid Report (SAR) is a document you’ll receive after filling out the application. It sums up all your answers on the application. Look over the SAR to confirm all your information is correct, and notify the FSA if there are any errors. If everything looks good, simply keep the SAR for your personal records.
3. Can I use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to import tax information?
Yes, the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) is available for the 2021-2022. You can use it to import your data directly from the IRS website into the FAFSA.
For a preview of the application, check out this PDF.
4. Do I need to submit the FAFSA every year?
Yes, you will need to submit every year to remain eligible for federal student aid. After filling it out the first time, you can submit a renewal FAFSA in subsequent years. The website will automatically fill in most of your information from the previous year.
You just need to double-check that everything is still correct. You can also start from the beginning if you need to make significant changes.
5. Can I edit the FAFSA after I submit it?
Yes, you can edit the FAFSA after you submit. In fact, you’re required to do so if there’s a change in your dependency status, in the number of your family members or in the number of people in your household who are in college.
You can also fix mistakes you made when filling out the form. To make corrections, log in to your account and click on “Make Corrections.” Enter your FSA ID, make any updates and then hit submit.
You can correct any field with the exception of your Social Security number. If you entered an incorrect Social Security number, contact the financial aid office of your college. They might advise you to submit an entirely new one.
6. What do I do if my (or my parents’) income changes?
If your family’s income changes dramatically (a parent lost their job, for example), speak with your school’s financial aid office. The college might be able to accommodate your new circumstances. However, additional aid isn’t guaranteed.
The government determines your EFC based on the information that was accurate at the time. If that information is no longer accurate, you’ll need to discuss the changes with your school.
7. Should I file for the FAFSA even if I don’t think I’ll qualify for financial aid?
Yes. Don’t neglect to fill out the application because you think you won’t qualify. There’s no income cutoff for financial aid. Plus, some schools rely on the FAFSA to award scholarships.
Filling it out will also protect you in the event your financial circumstances change. If a parent loses their income, for example, you can speak with your college’s financial aid office about readjusting your financial aid package. But you won’t qualify for federal aid if you never filled out the application in the first place.
Some common FAFSA myths lead students to believe they’re not eligible for financial aid. Don’t let these misconceptions make you miss out on grants or scholarships.
8. What are the different types of financial aid?
Financial aid packages are made up of a mix of grants, scholarships, student loans and work-study options. Grants and scholarships, in most cases, you don’t have to pay back this type of financial aid. You will have to pay back student loans — with interest.
The federal work-study program is only available to students with a certain amount of financial need. It allows you to work part time on campus and earn money each semester. If you’re interested in being considered for work-study, make sure to indicate that.
9. How much financial aid will I get?
The amount of financial aid you’ll receive largely depends on the college or graduate school. Some colleges even meet full financial need for all accepted students.
Other colleges might not meet your full financial need. In that case, you will need to find other sources of funding, such as private student loans, if you still wish to attend that school.
Remember that financial aid includes federal student loans — up to $31,000 for dependent undergraduates and up to $138,500 for graduate students. So even if your financial aid award meets your full financial need, you might take on significant debt to pay for school.
To estimate your financial aid package, check out the FAFSA4caster tool. This tool gives you a sense of how much it will cost to attend each school on your list. It can’t predict exactly how much aid you’ll get from each school, but it will give you a rough estimate of the total cost.
10. When do I get my financial aid package?
College financial aid offices determine your financial aid award. Many regular decision colleges send out admissions decisions in March or April of your senior year in high school. Financial aid packages often come at the same time or shortly after.
Some rolling-decision schools send out decisions and financial aid packages later in the spring or summer. But you should be able to view and compare financial aid packages before it’s time to pick a college.
- In addition to finding answers to your FAFSA questions, you should also apply for institutional aid and independent scholarships.
Some colleges, for example, require the College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile. The College Board administers the CSS Profile. A good number of colleges use it to award nonfederal student aid.
Plus, you can apply for scholarships from local and national organizations. By covering all your bases, you’ll get the largest amount of financial aid for college possible. To get started, check out our listing of the best scholarship search tools around the web.
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