If you need help paying for college, Federal Student Aid can help. Each year, Federal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education, provides more than $150 billion in higher education grants and loans to students attending college—but to qualify, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
The FAFSA is used for all federal grants and loans as well as for many state and institutional student aid programs. Remember, applying is FREE and there is no income cut-off to qualify for federal student aid. However, some aid is distributed on a first-come, first-served basis so it is important to apply early.
You can complete the FAFSA for the upcoming 2012-2013 school year now at www.fafsa.gov. The online application is the quickest and easiest way to apply for aid.
The online application minimizes the number of questions you must complete by using your responses to eliminate additional questions that do not apply to you. It also allows you to retrieve your tax information directly from the IRS to populate many of the financial questions on the FAFSA. These improvements have helped reduce the average time it takes to complete the FAFSA by one third, from 33 minutes to 22 minutes.
In order to help you make informed decisions about college, the online FAFSA also provides you with important information about the schools you may be interested in attending, including school type, tuition costs, and net price, as well as graduation, retention, and transfer rates. The FAFSA website also offers information on the financial aid process and explains the various types of federal student aid available.
If you have questions when completing your FAFSA, we have lots of help available through our Contact Us page on www.fafsa.gov. You can contact us by:
- Using Live Help, a secure online chat session where you can ask our customer service representatives a question;
- Calling 1‑800‑4‑FED‑AID (1‑800‑433‑3243) or 319‑337‑5665; or
- E-mailing us at FederalStudentAidCustomerService@ed.gov or through our online question form.
You can also follow us on our new Twitter handle @FAFSA to get the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about completing the FAFSA. Or, you may want to attend our FAFSA Twitter town hall on January 26 at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time to have your FAFSA questions answered live by the U.S. Department of Education Under Secretary Martha Kanter.
We are looking forward to receiving your FAFSA soon. To learn more, please visit www.fafsa.gov.
James Runcie is Chief Operating Officer of Federal Student Aid