Thanks to Souhoud for the scoop–be sure to share this message with your family!
Completing the FAFSA is the only way your student can get financial aid. It is a financial aid application that determines how much your family can afford to pay for a child’s education. This is why the application asks for your social security number and for some of the information from your W2 form that you used to file taxes. Once you complete the application, each student is given a score called the Expected Family Contribution that represents an estimate of how much you will be expected to contribute, or pay, for your child’s school. That score is sent to each school your child has applied to, and each school uses that number to determine how much they will offer your child in scholarships. The government uses the number to determine how much your child is eligible for in grants (which you do not have to pay back), and in loans (which you do not have to accept). The application does not automatically sign you up for loans. In order to get a loan, the student has to complete another process – this will happen much later in this school year.
Just a reminder, students need either a completed 2010 income tax return OR their 2010 W2 form.
And just in case you are curious…the March 1 deadline reflects the earliest college deadline (each college has their own financial aid timeline).