FAFSA application help for the 2023-24 school year is here

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is a key step in making college affordable. Applications for the 2023-2024 school year open October 1, and those who apply early have the best chance of getting more free school money.

D. Jean Hester, who has overseen registration and admissions at schools in Ohio and Oregon for more than a decade, advises getting in line as quickly as possible. While the federal government does not run out of money for need-based aid, colleges and states do.

“Do it this fall. There’s absolutely no reason to wait,” says Hester.

When you submit the FAFSA, you are applying for need-based aid that can make a big difference in where you decide to go to school and how much debt you will face after graduation. your diploma. Every dollar you receive in grants, scholarships, and work-study is a dollar you won’t have to beg from family or borrow.

Filing early also means you’ll get your financial aid offer from the colleges you’re applying to earlier, Hester notes, giving you time to compare offers or resolve any discrepancies.

“It’s one of those things you just need to get rid of,” she says.

Types of aid covered by the FAFSA

The FAFSA is used to calculate your family’s Expected Family Contribution, or EFC. Subtract the CEF from your school’s official tuition to reveal your financial need; the completed FAFSA then serves as an application for financial aid to help fill that hole.

A completed FAFSA unlocks these types of federal, state, and school aid based on need:

  • Pell Scholarships.
  • Work study.
  • Scholarships.
  • Subsidies.

The current maximum Pell Grant award is $6,895; any combination of grants, work-study, and bursaries can cover part or all of the difference between the school’s official tuition and your family’s expected financial contribution.

The great thing: These types of help don’t need to be repaid.

You must also complete the FAFSA to access federal student loans.

Watch your student loan debt tally

After completing the FAFSA, you are likely to be offered subsidized federal loans as well. they are called financial aid because the government pays the interest until you graduate. But they must be repaid like any other loan.

The FAFSA also serves as an application for unsubsidized federal loans, which are not need-tested. For freshmen, the amount is capped at $5,500 per year, but that increases to $7,500 per junior year.

If you need to borrow money beyond this amount, you can get a private student loan.

Any loan, whether subsidized, unsubsidized, or private, is part of the debt you will face after you graduate. NerdWallet analysis suggests the high school class of 2022 could face an average debt of nearly $40,000 by the time they graduate from college.

And while student loan news is currently focused on President Joe Biden’s recent cancellation announcement, the administration has made it clear that this allocation is tied to COVID relief and will not happen again.

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Cecilia Clark writes for NerdWallet. Email: [email protected] The article Unlock the College Financial Aid You Need Starting October 1 originally appeared on NerdWallet.

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