What is the FAFSA?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is one of the most common vehicles that students use to fund their college or university educational experiences. The application form, which can be submitted online or by mail, is designed to be easy to fill out when students have the right financial data available to them.

The financial aid application asks students to disclose their income or that of their parents so that financial aid reviewers can determine the level of need. The processing of this financial aid application results in the disbursement of millions of federal funding for education. Here are some types of financial aid that students become eligible for when they complete and submit the FAFSA.


One of the most desirable types of financial aid that students want to receive when they submit their free application for federal student aid is a grant. Grants are generally need based funds that students receive with very few strings attached; the funds do not have to be repaid unless the student drops out of school after the funds have been disbursed. Students can receive these grants from sources like the federal or state government, their school or a non-profit organization once they fill out the financial aid application.

A popular grant that is available to all students who can demonstrate financial need is the Federal Pell Grant. Students who choose an area of study that is in great demand can also obtain federal funds like the educational assistance for teaching grants. Spouses and children of military veterans often qualify for federal grants when their associated military member was injured or killed while serving in specific military campaigns.


Students who have worked hard and performed well academically or in extracurricular activities are sometimes rewarded with financial awards that do not require repayment.

While most of the information on the free application for financial aid relate to the financial status of students and their parents, some of the form’s questions help federal and private organizations to determine the eligibility of students for certain merit based scholarships.

For example, fine arts majors can qualify for scholarships that are sponsored by organizations that promote budding musicians. Also, some organizations offer scholarships to students who double major in education and a foreign language.

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Although a scholarship sponsor may require additional information from students before making official awards, the federal financial aid process connects students to numerous scholarship opportunities with one application.

Work Study Jobs

Students who can demonstrate financial need through the free application for federal student aid can qualify to work on campus through various work study programs. These students can get jobs in school libraries, gyms, cafeterias, dorms and administrative offices. While some students may not have a choice about the exact work study positions that are available to them, students who have a choice should match their career goals with an associated work study position.


Loans are the most common form of financial aid received by students who use the free application for financial aid. These funds can be applied towards tuition and fees, room, board and books. However, loans must be repaid.


Completing the application for financial aid is one of the most important steps that most students take toward reaching their academic goals, and submitting the form on time is almost as important as being thorough in one’s answers. The federal deadline for FAFSA submission is 30 June, but students should double check with their schools because many of them have due dates that are much earlier.