Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is your first step for securing education loans from the U.S. Department of Education. The FAFSA provides you with valuable information about the federal grants, college student loans and work-study programs you might qualify for. It also tells you what the government expects your family to contribute to your education in the upcoming year.
Getting started with the FAFSA education loan process
Start the financial aid process by visiting the FAFSA website and becoming familiar with the application deadlines. You can also familiarize yourself with the FAFSA filing process. This is especially important as the FAFSA is considered the application for the Federal Direct Loans. Then, you should decide which of the three application channels you want to use: You can complete the online FAFSA application, print a PDF version of the application, or call 1-800-4-FED-AID to have an application mailed to you. Typically, an online application results in the most prompt delivery of your Student Aid Report (SAR).
Providing tax and financial information when applying for your education loan
The FAFSA application contains many questions about your parents’ incomes and current financial status (or your information if you are an independent student). To complete the application, you and/or your parents will need your filed income tax return from the previous year. (If you are filing for your college student loans through FAFSA online, you may be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.) You will also need information regarding personal finances like savings and investments. It would be a good idea to work through the application with your parents to make sure the information you provide is accurate.
Choose which schools will receive your student loan information
One of the final sections of the FAFSA requires you to identify the schools that should receive your application. This will ultimately give them the information they need to put together a federal aid package for you. You will need the federal school code for each institution. If you do not have this information on hand, you can find it on the FAFSA website or by calling 1-800-4-FED-AID.
Receiving student loan information
Once your FAFSA application has been processed, you will receive a Student Aid Report. Colleges will look at the financial information presented in the report, including your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), and present you with a financial aid package. Once you receive financial aid packages from the schools you have been accepted to, you should review all the options before making a final decision. Typically, colleges send out financial aid packages in late March or early April. Deposits for the fall semester are typically due around May 1st.
Educate yourself with a student loan calculator
When you complete college, you will have to pay off any loans you have borrowed. Right now, you can get an idea of private loan options available and how the numbers could work out for repayment by entering your financial aid information for the current year into a student loan calculator. This tool will help you see what you need to borrow that year and provide repayment options based on the loans suggested. It can help you understand the responsibility you are facing. Most financial institutions that have a student loan calculator only provide information for their private loans. If you have a loan from more than one bank, you will need to use the respective calculator to ensure accurate information. If they don’t have a student loan calculator, you can set up time to talk to your lender in person.
Sponsored content was created and provided by RBS Citizens Financial Group