FAFSA is for Everyone, Including Older Students
Paying for college can seem daunting at any age, but especially so if you're an adult without the benefit of your parents' financial support. Luckily, adult learners today have plenty of options when it comes to finding financial aid. Scholarships, grants, and loans are widely available to help you get the education you deserve.
Like most students, all you have to do to gain access to many of the financial aid resources available to you is start by filling out the FAFSA.
What is the FAFSA?
FAFSA stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA is a free online application form that is administered through the U.S. Department of Education to help students secure financial aid from a variety of sources, including federal and state governments, colleges, and universities. Once you complete your application, the government will use the information you provide to assess your expected family contribution (EFC) and determine if you qualify for aid, and how much.
Does the FAFSA have an age limit?
It's easy to believe that the FAFSA only applies to young students entering college straight out of high school or to college students whose parents can't afford full tuition. That said, there is no age limit to completing the FAFSA.
Almost everyone is eligible for some type of federal student aid, and completing the FAFSA is generally the first step toward qualifying for grants, scholarships, work study, and loans. After all, the FAFSA is designed for any and every college student to assess their eligibility for assistance, so you deserve to see what kind of aid is out there for you, too. If you don't take the time to complete the FAFSA, you may miss out on large amounts of money that can help you pay for school without depleting your savings account.
The FAFSA shouldn't take you long to complete, either. Once you've established or closely estimated all of your family's income and asset information from the previous year (often based on your tax return), it should be easy to answer all the questions on the FAFSA.
How do I apply for the FAFSA?
If you're ready to start, you can fill out the FAFSA online at fafsa.ed.gov. Simply create an online account, input your information and see how much you could save on college. The submission window opens each year on January 1.
It generally takes 30 minutes to an hour to complete the FAFSA online in its entirety. You can also save your application online and come back to it once you have all the information you need. If you don't have all the information you need when you start the application, you can often submit estimates to be proven once your taxes have been filed.
You must submit the FAFSA every year to determine any necessary adjustments to your eligibility status, as your finances may change over the course of one year. Whatever your circumstances, completing the FAFSA is a necessary step toward receiving the money that could make a difference in your education and your life.
The perks of filling out the FAFSA significantly outweigh the time it takes to gather your information and fill it out. Having that extra financial support gives you a little room to breathe, so you can focus more on your studies rather than worrying about how you'll pay for school. Take the stress of tuition costs off your shoulders by filing for the FAFSA today.
Written by Ashford University staff.