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How Does FAFSA Work?


The acronym means “Free Application for Federal Student Aid”. This form is possible to be prepared on the annual basis by young people who currently are students or who will become ones in near future (this means both graduate and undergraduate). Our college homework help specialists will now review it in details.

The form serves to define the graduate’s eligibility about certain financial aids provided according to him or her in the United States of America  is a form that can be prepared annually by current and prospective college students (undergraduate and graduate) in the United States to determine their eligibility for graduate financial assistance.

One should know that FAFSA is not the CSS Profile demanded in certain colleges. The CSS is a product based on determined fee payments by the College Board: colleges tend to use it n order to provide their students with costs from their private funds, not state or federal ones.

How Does FAFSA Exactly Work and How Long Does it Take FAFSA to Process the Application?

Almost all graduates can have the eligibility about this or that FAFSA aid. Unsubsidized income or condition based Stafford Loan may be available in case of a graduate not having enough proven reasons to ask about need-based assistance.

Any graduate able to meet all of the criteria described below may have the eligibility to ask about financial aid:

  • He or she is registered in the Selective Service System (this is needed in the US for Conscription) between 18 and 25 years old in case if that is a demand (this FAFSA demand is not obligatory to female students).
  • His or her Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is maintained.
  • He or she has the United States citizenship or nationality, or is a non-citizen eligible for FAFSA.
  • His or her Social Security number is valid.
  • He or she has a GED or a diploma of a high school.
  • He or she signed the statement of certification confirming that: 1) does not have any debts in a federal studying grand and not defaulted on the federal loan and 2) the aid got from FAFSA will be used exclusively for purposes of education.
  • He or she is not caught for the possession or sale of illegal drugs while receiving the federal aid by FAFSA.

SAFRA (Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act) in 2010 got the suspension terms of drug-related offense eligibility changed. Earlier in time, it was possible for graduates an undergraduates to become ineligible for either the sale or possession of any controlled substances while the enrollment period was on the go. SAFRA got controlled substance possession penalties dropped but those for drug dealing were retained. The suspension by SAFRA was then increased to 2 years in case of the first offense. The suspension in case of the second offense is indefinite.

Members of active duty services and military veterans willing to become students have the opportunity to fill A FAFSA even in case they also would like to use housing and education benefits provided by the Yellow Ribbon program and the Post-9/11 G. I. Bill. Four federal grant programs (FSEOG, TEACH, Pell and SMART) and many other aid possibilities provided by state governments a young person may get will not become ineligible for them by amounts of military aid received for college educational purposes.


FASFA Deadline, Filing Options, Preparations

How long does FAFSA take to process?  Previously, in academic years of 2016-2017, it was made available on the 1st of January.  Starting from the academic year of 2017-2018, the FAFSA became publicly available on the day of the 1st of October. The United Stated Department of Education set earlier availability terms in order for the typical application processes in colleges would become more closely aligned with the application processes for financial aid. In addition, the US tax data for last 2 years is being used to complete financial sections starting in the academic year of 2017-2018. This FAFSA renewal was called to make the application processes easier.

How Can a Student Prepare FAFSA?

The official website of the United States Department of Education defines three possible options to prepare the form for students:

  • A student can prepare FAFSA on the web at
  • A student can use the telephone hotline number of 1-800-433-3243.
  • A student can fill the regular paper form.

The 2008 Higher Education Opportunity act got the fee-based preparation processes of FAFSA authorized. According to the law, this kind of FAFSA preparation services must initiate contacts with a student to inform him or her about payment-free options. FAFSA preparation firms not informing students about that or ones not being transparent about their payments should be avoided.

FAFSA Application

Additionally to the data about their demography and finances, a student can list up to 10 educational establishments to receive results right after the application is processed. Throughout history, students had some concern about the order they list schools for application or FAFSA position to become the reason for an institution to reject admissions or to offer lower financial aid amounts due to the same reason. But the Education Department introduced the FAFSA renewal for the academic year of 2016-2017: since then, school officials do not have access to the data touching other establishments listed on the student’s application.

After the FAFSA is done, a student receives the SAR (Student Aid Report). This report provides students with the info on their EFC (Expected Family Contribution), a sum of info provided by students, and financial aid types they can potentially be eligible for. It is better to review the SAR carefully to find possible mistakes and correct them if needed. The ISIR (SAR electronic version) becomes available for universities and colleges students list on the FAFSA. The need-based aid awarding state agencies receive their ISIR as well.

We hope this info will be helpful for you when applying for FAFSA. Have a good luck, study well and graduate with no problems!

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