WHAT IS FEDERAL STUDENT AID?
Federal student aid comes from the federal government—specifically, the U.S. Department of Education. Its money that helps a student pays for education expenses at a postsecondary school (e.g., college, career school, graduate school). Federal student aid covers such expenses as tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation. Aid also can help pay for a computer and for dependent care. There are three main categories of federal student aid: grants, work-study, and loans. Check with your school to find out which programs your school participates in. Information about the federal student aid programs for 2012–13 is on page 2 of this document.
WHO GETS FEDERAL STUDENT AID?
Our most basic eligibility requirements are that you must:
• Demonstrate financial need (for most programs; to learn more, visit www.studentaid.ed.gov/funding,
• Be a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen,
• Have a valid Social Security number,
• Register (if you haven’t already) with Selective Service, if you’re a male between the ages of 18 and 25,
• Maintain satisfactory academic progress in postsecondary school, and
• Show you’re qualified to obtain a postsecondary education by having a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) certificate; passing an approved ability-to-benefit test (if you don’t have a diploma or GED, a school can administer a test to determine whether you can benefit from the education offered at that school); completing six credit hours or equivalent course work toward a degree or certificate; meeting other federally approved standards your state establishes; or completing a high school education in a home school setting approved under state law.
HOW DO YOU APPLY FOR FEDERAL STUDENT AID?
1. Complete the Free Application for Federal
Student Aid (FAFSA).
For FAFSA on the Web, go to www.fafsa.gov. Using FAFSA on the Web is faster and easier than using paper. If you need a paper FAFSA, you can get one from our website at www.fafsa.gov (download a PDF), our ED Pubs website at www.edpubs.gov, or our Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243).
For the 2012–13 year, you can apply beginning Jan. 1, 2012; you have until June 30, 2013, to submit your FAFSA. But you need to apply as soon as you can! Schools and states often use FAFSA information to award nonfederal aid. Their deadlines are usually early in the year. You can find state deadlines at FAFSA on the Web or on the paper FAFSA. Check with the schools you’re interested in for their deadlines.
2. Review your Student Aid Report (SAR).
After you apply, you’ll receive a Student Aid Report, or SAR. Your SAR contains the information reported on your FAFSA and usually includes your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is an index number used to determine your eligibility for federal student aid. Review your SAR information and make any corrections or changes, if necessary. The school(s) you list on your FAFSA will get your SAR data electronically.
3. Contact the school(s) you might attend.
Make sure the financial aid office at each school you’re interested in has all the information needed to determine your eligibility. If you’re eligible, each school’s financial aid office will send you an award letter showing the amount and types of aid (from all sources) the school will offer you. You can compare award letters from the schools to which you applied and see what aid you can receive from each school.