Centra Blog

Increasing your Financial IQ

Paying for College: The FAFSA

Once you’ve decided to go to college, it’s important to understand how you’ll pay for college. In general, college is paid for through money that’s been saved on your behalf by you or others, part-time or full-time employment you plan to have during college, and through various sources of financial aid. Your goal should be to borrow as little money as possible to pay for college. This is important so that you have a manageable student loan payment after graduation.

What is the FAFSA?

The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. You have to fill the application out every year that you plan to go to college to receive federal funds from your school in the form of loans, grants, and scholarships.

Tips on filling out the FAFSA

  • Fill out the FAFSA early, as soon as possible after you and your parents file your yearly income taxes.
  • Get your parents involved because you’ll need their filed income tax information from the previous year. You’ll need to do this every year until you turn 25. Further information regarding parent information can be found on the https://studentaid.gov/ site.
  • Complete the online form. Make sure you complete the form on the official FAFSA website (https://studentaid.gov/). There are other organizations that try to have you complete their FAFSA form and then charge you a fee for using their website.
  • Make sure to check on the processing—call your college’s financial aid office to see if they’ve received it. Also, check with your college’s financial aid office about additional paperwork that you need to get the award letter processed.