The first, and most important, thing you need to do when researching sources of financial aid assistance for college is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. This form needs to be submitted as soon as possible after January 1 of the year that you plan to start college. The earlier you complete your FAFSA, the sooner you will have a solid understanding of what types of financial aid assistance you qualify for, and what options are available to you.
The fastest and most secure way to complete your FAFSA is via the Department of Educationís online form. When you complete your FAFSA online, it will be processed much more quickly than if you submit paper-based forms. Additionally, there are no worries about someone using information from your paper forms to commit identity theft when you utilize the governmentís secure online system.
Once your FAFSA has been processed, you will receive financial aid information from the Department of Education and your school regarding what types of Federal Financial Aid you are eligible to receive. Additionally, many state grant programs use information from the FAFSA, as do a number of institutional scholarship programs that have need-based components. Students who get their FAFSA paperwork turned in early often have priority when it comes to being considered for such programs.
If you have any questions regarding the FAFSA, call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID.
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|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|