FAQs about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

By Huntington Learning Center

If you are the parent of a high school student, college is likely on your mind—and so is how to pay for it. Many parents are not as informed as they could be about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), says CEO and Co-Founder, Eileen Huntington of Huntington Learning Centers. “Most families understand that the FAFSA gives them access to federal student aid in the form of federal grants, work-study and loans, but the financial aid process can still be quite overwhelming,” says Huntington. She answers some of the most frequently asked questions about federal aid:

What are the requirements to receive financial aid? Students must hold a high school diploma or General Education Development certificate and be enrolled in an eligible program as a regular student seeking a degree or certificate, maintaining satisfactory academic progress. They must be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen with a Social Security Number, not be in default on any federal student loans, not have any convictions for the possession or sale of illegal drugs, and register with the Selective Service System if a male and not currently on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces (more details on all of this at https://fafsa.ed.gov).

What do students need to complete the FAFSA? A Social Security Number or Alien Registration Number, federal income tax returns, W-2s, and records of taxed or untaxed income, bank and investment records, and an FSA ID, which parents and students can create at https://fsaid.ed.gov.

Do students need to wait until their/their parents’ taxes are filed to complete the FAFSA? No. For the 2018-2019 school year, students will report their 2016 income information (not 2017).

What are the federal student aid deadlines? The FAFSA for the 2018-2019 school year was available on October 1, 2017 and students/parents can apply between then and June 30, 2019 for aid for the 2018-2019 school year. For the 2019-2020 school year, students/parents can apply between October 1, 2018 and June 30, 2020.

Are state student aid and college aid deadlines different? Yes, they might be. Check online at https://fafsa.ed.gov/deadlines.htm. In New Jersey, for example, the fall and spring term state aid deadline is September 15, 2018. Each college might have its own financial aid deadline, so students need to contact the colleges they’re interested in attending to find out for sure.

Do students need to wait until they are accepted to a college before completing the FAFSA? No. They do have to list at least one college that will receive their FAFSA information, but students can list all schools they are interested in—even if they haven’t applied or been accepted yet. If they submit the FAFSA and later consider a school that they did not list previously, they can submit a correction to the FAFSA online.

Are grades taken into consideration when financial aid is awarded? No. If students want to continue receiving federal student aid, however, they must maintain satisfactory academic progress. This essentially means they must meet a minimum grade-point average and complete a certain number of credits each year. Each school has its own policy, so it’s a good idea to check with them.

What happens after a student submits the FAFSA? The U.S. Department of Education processes the application within 3-10 days, depending on whether the student applied online or not. Then they will receive a copy of a Student Aid Report (SAR), which summarizes the information provided on the FAFSA and includes an Expected Family Contribution. Colleges use this figure to assess eligibility for other federal and nonfederal student aid and creating students’ award packages (and distributing that aid).

These are some of the most common questions about financial aid, but Huntington encourages parents and students to visit the Federal Student Aid website for more information about the FAFSA and federal aid for students: https://fafsa.ed.gov.

About Huntington

Huntington is the tutoring and test prep leader. Its certified tutors provide individualized instruction in reading, phonics, writing, study skills, elementary and middle school math, Algebra through Calculus, Chemistry, and other sciences. It preps for the SAT and ACT, as well as state and standardized exams.  Huntington programs develop the skills, confidence, and motivation to help students succeed and meet the needs of Common Core State Standards.  Founded in 1977, Huntington’s mission is to give every student the best education possible.  Learn how Huntington can help at www.huntingtonhelps.com. For franchise opportunities please visit www.huntingtonfranchise.com.  

©2018 Huntington Mark, LLC. Huntington Learning Center®, the three-leaf logo, and 1 800 CAN LEARN® are registered trademarks of Huntington Mark, LLC. Each franchised Huntington Learning Center is operated under a franchise agreement with Huntington Learning Centers, Inc.


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