To get a federal student loan, you must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as the FAFSA®. The information you provide on the FAFSA® application will determine your financial aid eligibility.
Filling Out the FAFSA® – The First Step For Getting Federal Financial Aid
The FAFSA® is used to determine your financial need for federal aid. Your financial information is plugged into a formula that calculates your Expected Family Contribution, which is the amount you are expected to contribute towards the cost of your education. Your school will subtract that number from their Cost of Attendance to determine your financial need.
Only US citizens and eligible non-citizens are considered eligible to receive federal financial aid through the FAFSA®. You can read more about eligible non-citizens here.
You can file your FAFSA® as early as October 1 for the following academic year. For example, the 2021-2022 FAFSA® opened on October 1, 2020. Financial aid is awarded on a first-come-first-served basis, so the sooner you can get your application in the better.
Here’s what you’ll need to complete your application:
- Your personal information (Name, date of birth, contact information and social security number)
- Tax and income information from two years prior to the academic year for which you are applying for aid. (EG: 2019 taxes for the 2021-2022 FAFSA®)
- Records of nontaxable income such as welfare benefits, child support, or veteran’s benefits from two years prior to the academic year for which you are applying for aid.
- Records of taxable fellowships, grants, scholarship aid, combat pay, work-study pay, and other types of finances
- Recent bank statements
- Records of stocks, bonds, and other investments
- The Title IV Institution Codes for any schools you’re applying to
If you are determined to be a dependent student, you will also need your parent(s) to supply the above information.
You can file your FAFSA® in 7 minutes using Frank’s simplified version of the application, or file directly through FAFSA.gov. You will need to file a FAFSA® for each school year for which you wish to receive aid.
What Happens Next: Finding Out Your Loan Eligibility After You File
After you file, you will receive your Student Aid Report in the mail. This will contain confirmation of all the information you supplied on your FAFSA®. Check to make sure all the information on your application is accurate, and make any corrections that are necessary.
You can expect to receive financial aid offers from the schools listed on your FAFSA® in the springtime. Those offers will contain information about any loans, grants, and scholarships you are being offered.
Signing Your Agreement: Master Promissory Note
In order to receive your loan, you must sign a Master Promissory Note stating your intention to pay back the loan after leaving school. The MPN is a legally binding document.
Signing your MPN should not take more than 30-minutes and can be done online.