The FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid

Free Application for Federal Student Aid

The FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid is a federal form students and their families fill out annually on the FAFSA website allowing students to receive funding for their education.

Who should fill out the FAFSA?

Everyone who plans to attend a college, university or other educational institution in the United States for which they may be able to receive funding from a source within the United States. 

We often hear from educational institutions we work with and our own here at Tech that not enough students fill out the FAFSA causing millions of dollars in student aid nationally, in the form of scholarships and grants, to annually go unclaimed. There is money out there, but this is one of the major barriers to receiving much of it as many scholarships and grants require recipients to have filled out and submitted their FAFSA.

When should I fill it out?

Early. If you are planning to attend a post-secondary educational institution* in the Fall you should apply as soon as you are able in the fall or winter of your final year in school (ex. 12th grade students in October). Now, if you haven't applied and it's March you don't need to freak out. While you may have missed some scholarship and grant deadlines, deadlines for most state and federal aid are usually sometime in late Spring. Generally these deadlines are at the end of March through May, but each state has their own deadline you can check for on the FAFSA website.

As of August of 2023: 

Michigan's Deadline is May 1st by midnight central time to receive state financial aid. 

The Federal Deadline is June 30th, 2024. The reason that this is so late into the 23-24 academic year is that it allows for students to apply for federal student aid up and until the last minute AND is also the end of the fiscal year making it the last day funds from the year could be used/applied.


Why should you submit it well before then?

The answer is time.

Each educational institution, however, has their own deadline. This is because each institution must be able to process your aid application. Then match you to relevant opportunities based on financial, academic and demographic information you provide on the FAFSA form and your application to their institution to generate your unique Financial Aid Package. Once your this package is generated, and you accept it, the institution must then apply your aid to your student bills prior to when you start. This takes time

As an example, Michigan Tech's deadline is March 1st annually but many of our scholarships and financial aid opportunities require earlier submission to be considered.

Since MANY educational institutions, including Michigan Tech, have earlier internal deadlines for specific scholarship and grant opportunities it is recommended to file (submit) your FAFSA annually as soon as it becomes available in December of each year.

*Post-secondary educational institution - we define this as any school, university, college, certification or training program that leads to career employment (long-term with potential for growth over ones lifetime) that requires a high school diploma, GED or equivalent to attend.

Get Help Filling Out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

We host workshops at schools and community organizations throughout Fall and Spring.

...

No workshops schedulled at this time.

Things to Note

The FAFSA helps calculate a students Expected Family Contribution or EFC which is an index, based on the information you provide, used to anticipate what your family is able to contribute to your educational expenses. This number determines your eligibility for aid and how much aid you qualify for. It is important to understand this number and we recommend you visit the Federal Student Aid website to learn more about this.