How To Get Financial Aid
To be eligible to receive financial aid, you have to be enrolled in an accredited school. This also requires that you either have a high school diploma or a GED.
Need your GED?
Fill out our form to speak with an academic advisor about GED programs. If you are already enrolled in an accredited school, go to Step 2 to prepare to fill out your FAFSA application.
Speak to an education advisor about finding the best accredited school and program for you by filling out our form to the right.
Can online students receive financial aid?
Yes! Check out the top online colleges that received the most federal Pell Grant funding in the 2015-2016 school year.
Why choose an accredited school?
Financial aid is only awarded to students enrolled in an accredited school. Let us help you find an accredited school, fill out the form to the right.
Everything you’ll need to know to fill out your FAFSA form online.
Before starting your FAFSA application, be sure to fill out the worksheet. The worksheet will help you organize all the needed information in one place.
Here are the questions and sections you can expect on your FAFSA application:
General Personal Information:
- Birth date
- Phone Number
- Social Security Number
- Driver’s License
- Mailing Address
- State of residence
- Marital Status
1. Determine your eligibility for financial aid:
- Are you a U.S. Citizen or National? If you are not either of these, you are ineligible for funds.
- Do you have a high school diploma or GED? One of these is required to qualify for financial aid.
- What is your year in school? Your year in school doesn’t make you ineligible for financial aid but it does determine the amount of money you are eligible to receive.
- Have you been convicted of a drug offense? If you have been convicted of possessing or selling illegal drugs during the time for which you are applying for financial aid, you are not eligible to receive funds. Don’t count convictions removed from your record or convictions before turning 18, unless tried as an adult. Our suggestion: don’t do illegal drugs.
2. School Selection
You can select up to ten colleges. You have to provide the school code for each school selected. Don’t worry; there is a tool in the FAFSA application to help you figure out each of your schools’ codes.
- What are your housing plans?
- Will you be living on or off campus?
- Will you be living with your parent/s?
- Will you be full- or part-time?
3. Dependency Status
Were you born before January 1, 1987?Are you married?Do you have any dependents?Are you in the military?Are you Homeless?Answered “no” to all Q’s?Considered a dependent of your parents. You will need to provide their demographic and financial information.
Answered “yes” to any Q’s?
- Considered an independent and will need to provide financial information for only yourself.
4. Parent Demographics
- If you are independent then you don’t need to fill out this section of the form. Skip to Section 5.
- If you are a dependent then you may want your parents with you to fill out this section.
- Names of parents and marital status
- Parents’ Social Security Numbers
- General Information (refer to Section 1)
5. Financial Information
- Independent? If you are an independent then provide your personal financial information.
- Dependent? If you are a dependent then provide your parents’ and your personal financial information.
Necessary Financial Information:
- Tax return of previous year
- Gross Income
- Amount of Taxes
- Exemptions Claimed
- Grants and Scholarships
6. Sign & Submit
- Your Social Security Number
- Your PIN # – assigned before beginning your FAFSA
- Parents’ PIN # (only if you are a dependent)
- Click “submit” and you’re ready to go!
You will receive an e-mail from your school’s financial aid office. Continue to monitor the progress of your application by keeping in close communication with your financial aid advisor.
Now that you’re prepared with all the information you need for your FAFSA application, fill it out the form by going to the US Department of Education’s Free Online FAFSA Form
Be sure to fill out a FAFSA each academic year you have financial need.
How long does it take to fill out the FAFSA application?
If you are prepared with all of the information found in Step 2, it should take no longer than 30 minutes. Make sure you have all the information you need before you start your application to make it as quick and easy as possible.
Submit your FAFSA
Work with your school’s financial aid advisors
Most FAFSA information comes through your school, each of which has certain requirements that must be met after your FAFSA has been submitted and before you can get your results. Make sure you know what those requirements are to make the process as fast as possible.
What if I don’t receive a grant?
Main reasons for grant denial:
- You do not meet the financial requirements
- You are not enrolled at least half-time at an accredited school
- You are not a US citizen
- There are criminal charges on your record
No worries! You still have options. Loans are a great help to many students. Unlike grants, loans have to be repaid. Talk to your financial advisor to see which loan would be best for you.
Once your school receives your grant money, they will notify you. Enjoy!
How much can I get?
The amount of financial aid you are eligible to receive depends on your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), your year in school, your enrollment status, and your school’s attendance cost. Your school’s financial aid office will have more information about how much money you can receive.
Why should I fill out a FAFSA if I know I won’t qualify for a grant?
FAFSA is not just for students who want to receive grants. You can find out if you are eligible for scholarships, loans, and federal work study by filling out a FAFSA. You never know, you could get lucky!
Do I have to fill out a new FAFSA application every school year?
Yes. This is a benefit for you because your financial situation could change year to year. Filling out the FAFSA will make the allocation of government funds as accurate as possible. And after you fill it out once, you’ll be a pro.
Can I receive a Pell Grant if my account is paid in full?
Yes. You can receive a grant even if your account is paid in full out of your own pocket.
Do I have to use my parents’ financial information on my FAFSA if they don’t claim me on their tax return?
Yes. As shown in Step 2, you are considered a dependent of your parents until you are older than 24, married, in the military, etc.
Can I receive financial aid if I have previously received it?
Can I receive a Pell Grant no matter what my degree is?
Pell Grants are used mainly for undergraduate degrees. There are other specific degree level grants as shown on this page. Whatever degree you choose, make sure you enroll at an accredited university so you can be eligible to receive financial aid.
Is there an application fee?
No! FAFSA stands for FREE Application For Federal Student Aid.
Can I be awarded more money than just the cost of my tuition?
It is possible to receive a surplus. However, it is highly recommended that if you have a surplus, you use it for educational purposes such as housing and books. If you use it for other personal expenses, you may be required to file those expenses on your taxes, because the surplus is then looked at as income.