Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) is a federally funded program whose goal is to ensure that students who have trouble paying for their postsecondary education are given all the assistance and guidance they need.
Those who wish to receive financial aid for the fall semester should apply by Apr. 15. While no cut-off dates are official, students who receive funding from the state are on a first come, first served basis.
“Some students think that once you fill out the FAFSA, you’re done,” said Emma Jackson, financial aid tech at Salt Lake Community College. “You’re not actually applying for aid when applying for FAFSA. You’re letting your school know what you will qualify for.”
Jackson said that one of the most common mistakes that can delay a student loan is submitting an incorrect household size. First time financial aid recipients are encouraged to fill out the application with their parents to ensure there are no delays.
“Even if you are not living with your parents, if you are still considered dependent, it should still include your parents,” Jackson said.
After sending an application electronically or through traditional mail, the U.S. Department of Education processes it. The FAFSA information that was submitted will then be reported to Salt Lake Community College.
This type of report is known as a Student Aid Report (SAR). The SAR ensures that the correct information has been submitted. Students will then be notified via email if any corrections need to be made.
From FAFSA to grants
Upon submitting a FAFSA application students can find out if they qualify for federal grants. Grants are gifts of money which students never have to repay.
The most common type of federal grant at SLCC is a Pell Grant. Awarded a maximum of $5,550 each year, a Pell Grant is given to students who are 24 years old or younger and do not have a bachelor’s or a professional degree.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, SLCC awarded financial aid to over 27,000 students through FAFSA last year.
“I received a Pell Grant for my first year of school,” said student Kort Fonger. “With a little bit of help from my mom, using FAFSA was simple.”
After the FAFSA application has been submitted and the SAR has been corrected, students can then look forward to loan counseling.
As a requirement, students must meet with a counselor or financial aid technician to discuss the terms and conditions of their new student loan, as well as a thorough evaluation of their exit strategy.
As an additional requirement, students must sign a promissory note to ensure their loan will be paid back in full.
To stay up to date with all of the necessary financial aid requirements, Jackson advises students to view their MyPage frequently after completing their FAFSA.
Requirements can be found underneath the student portal on MyPage.
Visit fafsa.ed.gov for more information.