FAQs About Financial Aid
Financial Aid Frequently Asked Questions
Applying for financial aid is a very important part of preparing for life after high school. Even if a student plans to take a year off or move directly into the world of work, completing the FAFSA/WASFA is a great way to ensure there is a backup plan. Especially in the current culture of uncertainty surrounding how we “do” life right now.
That being said, we recognize that the processes of applying and accepting financial aid can be overwhelming and you may have many questions surrounding the process. We created this document to support you and your students in your decision making regarding your student’s High School and Beyond Plan and their transition into life after high school.
Do I fill out the FAFSA or WASFA?
The FAFSA is for US citizens or eligible non-citizen applying for financial aid. There are many eligible noncitizens who qualify for financial aid. To see if you qualify please visit: Financial Aid Eligibility
The WASFA is for Washington State students who do not qualify for FAFSA aid due to immigration status. The WASFA allows a schools/colleges financial aid office to offer Washington State Financial Aid to students who meet DACA standards.
Should I wait until I’m accepted to a college before filling out the FAFSA/WASFA?
The earlier you complete the FAFSA the better because aid is provided in a first come-first serve manner. You do not need to be enrolled or even sure of which trade, community or university you are going to attend, but you can list up to 10 colleges!
Do my parents make too much money to apply for financial aid?
The Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) and Cost of Attendance) (COA) are the determining factors for financial aid assistance. This means that the only way to know if you qualify is to fill out the FAFSA and include the schools/colleges you are interested in attending.
What if I am offered or accept a financial aid package, but decide not to attend?
Before you begin classes you can call the financial aid office and let them know you will not be attending and they will cancel your financial aid package.
How is financial aid calculated?
A few weeks after filing your FAFSA, you’ll receive your Student Aid Report (SAR). The report will display your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This is the amount of money the federal government believes your family can pay towards your college education. This is based on the information you include on your FAFSA form. Your SAR is also sent to the colleges you list on your FAFSA form. Colleges use your EFC amount to figure out how much aid to offer you. They will use the EFC Formula to calculate your financial need.
The formula: Cost of Attendance (COA) minus Expected Family Contribution (EFC) equals financial need.
Is there an application fee for applying for the FAFSA/WASFA?
No. This is a free application.
Does the FAFSA/WASFA require a credit check?
How long does it take to complete the FAFSA/WASFA?
Once you have gotten all the needed information together, the process of completing the FAFSA takes about 30 minutes.
What documents do I need to fill out the FAFSA/WASFA?
This is the information you’ll need to provide about yourself:
● your Social Security Number (Alien Registration Number if you’re an eligible non-citizen)
● your driver’s license if you have one, or another state-issued ID
● your federal income tax returns, W-2s, and other records of money earned for 2 years prior
● your current bank statements and investment records
● records of untaxed income for 2 years prior
You’ll need to get the following information from your parent(s):
● parents’ Social Security Numbers
● parents’ federal income tax returns, W-2s, and other records of money earned for 2 years prior
● parents’ current bank statements
● parents’ business, farm, and investment records
● parents’ records of untaxed income for 2 years prior
Does providing parental tax information make the parents a co-lender or liable for the school loans?
No. The parental information is used only to determine the need of the applicant.
Does each college know that I am applying to other colleges?
A college will only know that you applied for financial aid when they receive your SAR. They will not receive any other details from your FAFSA. Each college will calculate your financial aid for their school only. You will receive a financial aid offer from each college that you include on the FAFSA and apply to.
If I add more than one college will it decrease my chance of getting financial aid?
No because the Student Aid Report (SAR) is calculated based on Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and each college will determine your financial aid package based on the formula noted above. Because Cost of Attendance (COA) is different at each college, each financial package will look different.
Do I have to accept or use all of the financial aid that is offered to me?
You are allowed to accept or decline any or all parts of the financial aid package offered to you.
What is the difference between a grant and a loan?
A grant is money that you do not have to pay back when you complete your degree.
A loan is money that you do have to pay back when you have completed your loan. A loan will carry an interest rate also. This will vary depending on type of loan and the current interest rate.
Can I still apply for scholarships if I am approved for financial aid?
Yes! The scholarships will be applied to your COA first and the financial aid will be used toward any balance remaining.
What can financial aid be used for?
Financial aid will be paid directly to the school/college you are attending. They will pay all tuition, fees, and fines on your account and then distribute the remaining balance to the loan holder. This can then be used for books, transportation, food, shelter, etc.
When do I have to start repaying my loans?
For most federal student loan types, after you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment, you have a six-month grace period (sometimes nine months for Perkins Loans) before you must begin making payments. This grace period gives you time to get financially settled and to select your repayment plan.
do I find the FAFSA application?
Where do I find the WASFA application?
Some schools and states have limited funds so don’t wait.
Resources: Federal Student Aid. Retrieved from https://studentaid.gov/manage-loans/repayment