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Qualifying for grants for college expenses can certainly help ease the financial burden of paying for higher education. Grants are just one type of financial aid for college. Grant programs are need-based, and typically do not cover all college expenses. The first step in applying for financial aid is to complete the Free Application for Federal Financial Student Aid (FAFSA). This form is the basis for determining eligibility for all federal financial aid programs including Pell grants, student loans, and work-study jobs.
Every student who is planning to attend college should fill out a FAFSA, regardless of whether or not he or she expects to qualify for federal aid. Students are sometimes pleasantly surprised to discover that they qualify for more than they expected. Additionally, some states use the FAFSA as the basis for awarding state-specific aid that is not need based.
It is recommended that you complete your FAFSA online for the fastest processing. However, paper applications are also accepted, and you may request one by calling 800-FED-AID. It is advisable to complete your FAFSA as soon after January 1 of the year you plan to start school as possible.
You will need a variety of information to complete the FAFSA, including: