- The FAFSA for the 2022-2023 school year is now open and the government is offering multibillion dollar assistance.
- The earlier you apply for the FAFSA, the better your chances of receiving Gift Aid.
- The FAFSA should take about 30 minutes to an hour if you have financial documents ready.
- Learn more about Insider’s student loan coverage here.
The free application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is now open for the 2022-23 school year. The FAFSA determines if you qualify for different types of aid, including grants, scholarships, work studies, and loans.
Even if you don’t think you qualify for financial assistance, you won’t know for sure unless you apply. Millions of dollars are left on the table each year by students who do not complete the FAFSA, so it is worth taking the time to complete the form. Here are five things you should know before ending the FAFSA.
1. FAFSA is not just for student loans
You might think of the FAFSA only as an application that determines your loan eligibility. However, you are also eligible for grants, scholarships, and work studies when you complete the FAFSA.
- Subsidies : The federal government offers grants based on exceptional financial need or to members of designated groups. Pell scholarships, which are presented to students with significant financial need, have a maximum allocation of $ 6,495 for the award year 2021-2022 (from October 1, 2020 to June 30, 2022). The maximum reward for the 2022-23 school year (October 1, 2021 to June 30, 2023) has yet to be announced. Learn more about types of federal grants.
- Scholarships: Colleges or private organizations may offer scholarships based on factors such as academic merit, athletic performance, or volunteer experience. You could even do a full tour so that the full cost of your school is covered. Even though scholarships are generally not based on financial need, schools can still use the FAFSA when developing your aid program.
- Work study: Your total amount of aid depends on when you apply, your level of financial need, and how much money your school has. Co-op is a type of financial aid that provides part-time positions for students in financial need to earn money for academic expenses.
You not to have to accept any help available to you through the FAFSA. Especially if your assistance plan includes student loans, take the time to assess your financial situation before agreeing to receive assistance.
2. The earlier you apply for the FAFSA, the better
Some aids, such as grants and scholarships, are awarded on a first come, first served basis and have limited funds. The longer it takes you to apply, the more likely you are to miss out on non-repayable forms of assistance.
While there are no limited funds available for loans, they are the least desirable form of assistance as you will have to repay the loan principal with interest.
You can apply for support for the 2021-22 school year until June 30, 2022 and the FAFSA deadline for the 2022-23 school year is June 30, 2023. Aid can be applied retroactively.
Learn more about the benefits of applying to the FAFSA early.
3. FAFSA help is not just based on financial need
There are no income limits or thresholds set by the FAFSA that determine whether you qualify for financial assistance. Some forms of assistance do not depend on financial need.
Scholarships are often awarded by schools based on factors such as academic merit, athletic performance, or volunteer experience, not financial need. You will usually still need to complete the FAFSA to determine your eligibility for this assistance.
Direct unsubsidized loans are also not determined by financial need. The maximum amount you can borrow each school year in direct unsubsidized loans depends on your grade and dependency status, and is between $ 5,500 and $ 12,500 for undergraduates. Graduate and professional students can withdraw $ 20,500 per year.
Learn more about FAFSA eligibility requirements.
4. The FAFSA will only take about 30 minutes to complete
While you can imagine the FAFSA will take hours and hours to complete, the process is actually pretty straightforward. You’ll need your Social Security number, and you should have the last two years’ taxes ready, although you can import the details directly from the IRS into the app. You will also need bank and investment statements.
Read a 10-step guide to filing the FAFSA, with app screenshots. Once you have all of your documents, the process should only take about 30 minutes.
5. You can add up to 10 schools to the FAFSA
When you complete your FAFSA, you decide which colleges to send your application to, and those schools will use the information to determine your financial aid program. You can do this for the colleges you are interested in, for which you have applied or for which you have been accepted, although you will only receive your financial aid after you have been accepted to a school.
You can send your FAFSA to a maximum of 10 schools. However, you can add more than 10 schools after submitting the form or remove schools from your list.
Find out how to add schools to the FAFSA.
Now that the FAFSA is open for the next school year, you’ll probably want to start applying as soon as possible. If you’re looking for more FAFSA or student loan coverage, we’ve got other key questions answered in our Personal Finance Insider student loans hub.