What you need to know about FAFSA

Don't forget to fill out your FAFSA!Whether you plan to go to college to begin a medical billing career or become a pharmacy technician, you’ll probably need a little financial aid to help you out with the cost of tuition. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as FAFSA, is released January 1st and must be completed by students and sometimes their parents to determine their eligibility for federal financial student aid, which can range from loans to grants.1 Here are three things you need to know about FAFSA:

1. Fill it out even if you don’t think you’re eligible

While you may not be particularly excited about the prospect of filling out yet another document, you should submit your FAFSA even if you don’t think you’ll be eligible for any financial aid – you may be pleasantly surprised! Also keep in mind that interest rates on student loans from the federal government may be lower than those you would get from a private lender.2

2. You need a new form every year

Because circumstances change each year, simply filling out the FAFSA freshman year isn’t going to cut it. Instead, you need to complete a new form each year you are in college – the financial aid eligibility doesn’t carry over from year to year. Deadlines are determined by individual colleges and universities, so check with your school’s student finance department for more information.3

3.Ask for help if you are lost

There are references available if you get stuck.  Call the Federal Student Aid Information Center, available Monday-Friday 8am-10:00pm (Eastern Time) at 1‑800‑4‑FED‑AID.  Go to the FAFSA Contact Page and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

1 U.S. Department of Education, Federal Student Aid, ‘About Us,’ 2013 – http://studentaid.ed.gov/about
2 Cannon, Ellen, Business Insider, ’15 Things You Need to Know About Financial Aid,’ Sept. 20, 2012 – http://www.businessinsider.com/15-things-you-need-to-know-about-financial-aid-2012-9
3 McCrackin, Susan, College Board, ‘Completing FAFSA: What you need to know,’ Jan. 29, 2013 – https://secure-media.collegeboard.org/CollegePlanning/media/pdf/Financial-Aid-Webinar-How-To-Complete-FAFSA.pdf

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