By Jess Nejad, Indiana Commission for Higher Education
F∙A∙F∙S∙A stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. OK… but what does it actually mean?
The FAFSA is the form you submit to receive financial aid from the federal and state government, colleges and universities.
What is financial aid?
Financial aid is money that helps you pay for college, skills and career training after high school. There are several types of financial aid:
- Grants – free money for college that doesn’t have to be paid back
- Scholarships – free money for college, which is sometimes based on academic merit, talent or a particular area of study. Looking for scholarships in Indiana? Use our scholarship finder tool!
- Work-study – part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students who demonstrate financial need that allow them to earn money to help pay education expenses. Click here to learn about EARN, Indiana’s work-study program.
- Federal student loans – these are subsidized and unsubsidized federal student loans to help cover the cost of higher education at a four-year college or university, community college, or trade, career or technical school. These loans must be paid back and accumulate interest (additional money that grows over time that must also be paid back)
When should you file the FAFSA?
If you’re hoping to enroll in some sort of education and training program during the spring, summer or fall of 2022, Indiana’s deadline to file the FAFSA is April 15, 2022. The federal deadline to file the FAFSA differs from Indiana’s, but you should file by the state’s deadline to ensure maximum financial aid consideration. Be sure to check with your school or training provider to see if they have a specific FAFSA deadline that differs from the state’s.
What do I need to file the FAFSA?
To submit the 2022-2023 FAFSA, you (and your legal guardian, if applicable) need these 7 things:
- Your FSA ID
- Your Social Security Number (SSN)
- Your Driver’s License Number
- Your 2020 Federal Income Tax Return
- Records of Your Untaxed Income
- Records of Your Assets (Money)
- List of School(s) You Are Interested in Attending
How to file the FAFSA?
Let’s be honest, the FAFSA isn’t easy to fill out. Any type of federal form can be confusing and overwhelming. The good news is that free help is available. Our friends at INvestEd are experts in helping students and families file the FAFSA and understanding all the ways to pay for your future education and training plans. They are super nice, real humans who help Hoosiers with all this complex stuff, so give them a call (317-715-9007) or send them a message.
For you visual learners, this infographic on filing the FAFSA is very helpful. For those of you who are ready to tackle the FAFSA on your own, this guide will walk you through exactly what to prepare for and how to file.
If you’re more of a hands-on learner, don’t miss College Goal Sunday on November 7, 2021. Professionals will be helping you file at 48 locations across Indiana between 2-4 p.m.
And if free help isn’t incentive enough, students who attend the event will be eligible to win one of five $1,000 prizes! Just be sure to ask about the prize when you get there so you can fill out the appropriate form.
The FAFSA might be a pain to file, but it’s your ticket to getting money for college. Even if you don’t think you’ll qualify for financial assistance, you should still file the FAFSA by the deadline. Get started today at https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa.