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What is the FAFSA?

What is the FAFSA?

The FAFSA is an application students can fill to cover some of the cost of college. It's a free application that gives need based financial aid to students during their college years. It helps ensure that students who might not otherwise have the opportunity to attend a school because of cost have the resources and thus ability to attend the school and give themselves an opportunity for a better life.

The Rising Cost Of College

The cost of college has gone up substantially in the last 20 years. More than doubling in the last 30 for private institutions and more than tripling for public four year institutions.

What the FAFSA does is alleviate the burden of paying 10K - 35K per year at the beginning of each year the student is at the given institution. Students and parents can take out a loan, and when the students graduate with a well paying job, they can pay the loan back.

How Do You Make The Most Of Your Student Aid

Something to keep in mind, is that not all loans are made the same. In fact, there are 4 different types of loans; each with their own benefits and drawbacks.

Here are the 4 different types of loans offered:

  1. Direct Subsidized Loans - These loans are typically made to qualifying undergraduates who demonstrate financial need to help them cover the cost of their schooling at a college or a trade school.

  2. Direct Unsubsidized Loans - These loans are eligible to undergraduates, graduates and professionals, but eligibility for these loans along with the loan amount are not based on financial need.

  3. Direct Plus Loans - These loans are made to graduate and professional student s to cover some expenses associates with student life that may not be covered by financial aid. Eligibility for these loans are not based on financial need, but a credit check is required before one is considered for these type of loans.

  4. Direct Consolidation Loans - This is a loan which allows students to combine the different types of loans they may have into a single loan.

The loan option we generally recommend for students entering college is the Direct Subsidized Loan. This loan generally tends to give students the most aid and often gives them the best interest rates and payment schedules so that students have the easiest time possible paying back these loans.

Deadlines To Be Aware of

Applying for a FAFSA for the upcoming school year must be done as quickly as possible so that: 1) The student is eligible for qualifying for the FAFSA and 2) The college they attend have ample time to process a student's FAFSA and incorporate that into their financial aid package.

There are three particular deadlines to be aware of when applying for the FAFSA: 1) The specific college deadline to send in information about the FAFSA, 2) The state deadlines if you're applying for state aid, and 3) The federal deadlines if you're applying for federal aid.

The college deadline differs by college, but often times, it is usually 6 months before the federal deadline; anywhere from late December to early February.

The state deadlines are highly variable where some states require a student to apply 9 months ahead of the federal deadline while others are much more lenient and allow students to apply up to 2 months after, just before the start of the start of their freshman year of college.

Finally, the federal deadline is static and always occurs on June 30th.


The FAFSA is an application which gives students the opportunity to attend their dream schools without worrying in significant part about the immediate cost of attending those schools. It's a free federal aid application for a loan which covers a substantial portion of the cost of a student's college expenses as they go through their collegiate years.

There are 4 different loan options for students when they apply for FAFSA. and they are: the Direct Subsidized Loans, the Direct Unsubsidized Loans, the Direct Plus Loans, and finally, the Direct Consolidation loans. Each of these loans have their own pros and cons depending on each students circumstance, but for the part, the best loan option for most students is the Direct unsubsidized Loans as these often give the best rates as well as the most aid for undergraduate students.

The deadlines for the FAFSA differs on the college, state, and federal level and it is important to check these deadlines for your particular school and state to make sure that you fill out and submit these application well before them.

If you're curious about the FAFSA and would like to learn some more, here are two articles (article 1, article 2) which go more in depth as to what the FAFSA is and how to use it in the best way possible to help you achieve your dreams.

Next Post: What's Next?->

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