Navigating FAFSA to Find College Financial Resources
Jun, 20 2022
Every year, high school seniors, college students, and adult learners who plan on attending college should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for federal and state financial aid, as well as many private-donor scholarships and work study programs.
Dates: Each year, the FAFSA application opens for the following academic year on October 1. According to Niceole Straub, Vice President at Discover Student Loans, FAFSA is “a little bit of a first-come-first-served system,” that’s why we encourage all students to fill out their form as soon as possible. The deadline for FAFSA for the 2021-22 year is June 30, 2022. For the 2022-23 school year, apply between October 1, 2022, and June 30, 2023.
By submitting your FAFSA application early, you will:
- Be notified of any additional or required documents with ample time to respond.
- Have time to review your financial award letter and ask questions before accepting.
- Maximize eligibility for limited federal and state funds that may be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.
For those who think they may not qualify, it’s important to remember that Federal Student Aid provides approximately $112 billion in financial aid assistance each year to students attending college or career school.
Be sure to apply for FAFSA every year. The FAFSA form only applies to a single academic year. That means you will need to submit a FAFSA form each year—and make sure you meet the FAFSA deadlines for state and college aid to maximize the aid you may receive.
“It’s important that students and families understand that FAFSA is there because the taxpayers and citizens of our state and our nation want to support young people in their college and career goals,” says Dr. April Osborn, Executive Director for the Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education. “The students’ part is to bolster themselves and get those applications finished.”
Frequent Asked FAFSA Questions
1. I need help filling out my forms, where can I find resources?
Students’ can find helpful step-by-step videos, downloadable guides, and several resources on our website.
2. Can I make changes to my FAFSA?
Yes! You can make changes to your FAFSA application once you've applied. If you spot an error or you need more aid due to a change in your family's finances, you can make any needed corrections and resubmit your application.
3. What type of assistance is available for filling out my FAFSA forms?
You’re in luck! Maricopa Financial Aid offers FAFSA Virtual Sessions through Google Meet. Students can select a date and time that works best for their schedule and receive assistance with their FAFSA forms. Additionally many high schools and several of our colleges host FAFSA workshops to assist students and their families. At South Mountain Community College, students can take advantage of virtual sessions and one-on-one appointments. These workshops are critical in helping first-generation and under-served students entering postsecondary education.
4. What’s the difference between a Grant, a Loan and Federal Work-Study?
- Grants are free money awarded to students for postsecondary tuition, housing and expenses. Grant funds may come from the federal government and the state. The Pell Grant is the largest of the federal grants and eligibility for the Pell Grant may qualify the student for other university funds.
- Loans must be paid back and may accrue interest. Loans may come from the federal government or the state
- Federal Work-Study is a program allowing students to take a part-time campus job as part of their financial aid package.
Don’t leave money on the table! Be sure to apply for FAFSA aid and find out what funds might be available to help you accomplish your college goals. Be sure to apply for FAFSA aid and find out what funds might be available to help you accomplish your college goals.