FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Most scholarships require you to complete a FAFSA in order to get your scholarship awards.
So here’s the deal on FAFSA. First, you will need your (or your parent’s) most current tax return information. When you apply for FAFSA, a pin number will be given to you. This is IMPORTANT…keep your FAFSA pin number in a very safe place and one that you can easily get to for future uses. Losing your FAFSA pin number is a pain so do yourself a favor (even if you are not an organized person) and put the pin number in a place where you can access it in the future.
The FAFSA application is an annual application which means you will need to complete your FAFSA application every year. Therefore, another important piece of information to keep in mind when it comes to FAFSA is how their calendar year works (hint: it is not from January to December). The FAFSA calendar year varies from state to state. Check out your state’s FAFSA calendar here.
What will this mean for you? Well, the most money available typically will be at the beginning of your state’s FAFSA calendar year so it is best to apply for scholarships anytime in the first few months after the deadline. Once money has been awarded (in FAFSA terms, “depleted”) then it is gone and you will have to wait for new funds to be available the next year. Your application will also only be valid (good) until the end of the FAFSA calendar year and then you will need to complete your application again. For example, if your state’s calendar year begins in July and you fill out your FAFSA in March, another FAFSA form would need to be completed by July 1 (see why having the FAFSA pin number comes in handy!).
Our recommendation…find someone that is already in college and ask them to help you with questions related to FAFSA. It can be intimidating in particular if you are the first person from your family to go to college. So, find a mentor and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Pretty soon, you will be able to mentor someone else in the ways of FAFSA and pay it forward to our community!
All the Best!
Visit the official FAFSA website to learn more.