5 Things You Should Do After Filing Your FAFSA® Form
The financial aid process doesn’t end once you submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form. There are still five things you should do to prepare to pay for school: 1. review your FAFSA confirmation, 2. consider your expected family contribution, 3. apply for scholarships, 4. make sure your schools have everything they need, and 5. correct your FAFSA form if needed.
Increase your chances of getting more aid for school by taking a few steps after you file your FAFSA® form.
Review Your FAFSA® Confirmation
After you complete the FAFSA form online and select “SUBMIT,” you’ll see a confirmation page like the one below. This is not your financial aid offer. You’ll get that separately from the school(s) you apply to and get into.
However, the confirmation offers estimates for the federal aid you might obtain from your school based on the information you provided on your FAFSA form. To calculate the actual amount of aid you’re eligible for, each school you apply to will send an offer that takes into account other factors, such as the cost of attendance. The estimates don’t account for private scholarships, or state and institutional financial assistance you may also be eligible for. How school(s) calculate your aid.
You can get an idea of how much aid you might get from a specific school at CollegeScorecard.ed.gov.
Consider Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
The information you report on your FAFSA form is used to calculate your EFC. It’s very important to note that the EFC is not the amount of money your family will have to pay for college. Instead, the EFC is an index number used by financial aid offices to calculate your financial need. The formula they use is:
Cost of attendance – EFC = Your financial “need”
Each school will do its best to meet your financial need. Some schools may meet 100 percent of your financial need, and other schools may only meet 10 percent—it just depends on the school and the financial aid they have available that year. You should complete the FAFSA form annually because there are many factors that can change from year to year.
The EFC formula considers income, dependency status, family size, and the number of family members who will attend college.
Apply for as Many Scholarships as Possible
Since many schools won’t be able to meet your full financial need, you’ll need a way to pay the difference between the financial aid your school offers and what the school costs. Scholarships are a great way to fill the gap.
Don’t wait until you receive your financial aid offer to start applying for scholarships. There are thousands out there, but many have early deadlines. Set a goal for yourself; maybe you aim to apply to one scholarship per week. Make scholarship applications your focus while you wait for your financial aid offer. The applications may take some time, but the possible payout makes it all worth it.
Make Sure Your Schools Have Everything They Need
After your FAFSA form has been processed successfully, it’s a good idea to make sure the schools you listed on your FAFSA form have received everything they need. Find out if your school requires additional applications or documentation and submit any required documentation by the appropriate deadlines.
The 2021–22 FAFSA form was made available on Oct. 1, 2020. Even if you submit it early, that doesn’t mean you’ll get an aid offer right away. Each school has a different schedule for awarding and paying out financial aid. Contact your school to find out what it is.
Remember that your school disburses your aid, not the “FAFSA people” (the U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid). Contact your school’s financial aid office for details about when they send out aid offers.
Make FAFSA® Corrections if Needed
After your FAFSA form has been processed (which takes about three days), you can go back and submit a correction to certain fields. This includes correcting a typo or adding another school to receive your FAFSA information. Log in with your account username and password (FSA ID) at fafsa.gov, and then select “Make FAFSA Corrections.” You can add up to 10 schools at a time. If you’re applying to more than 10 schools, follow these steps.
If you want to report significant changes in your family or financial situation, contact your school’s financial aid office.
NOTE: Parents of dependent students can’t initiate a FAFSA correction. Students have to begin the correction process by logging in with their FSA ID at fafsa.gov, selecting “Make FAFSA Corrections,” and creating a save key they can share with their parent.