How to Fill Out the FAFSA Form – Free Application for Federal Student Aid

Among the numerous options to raise funds for massage school, qualifying for and receiving Federal financial aid is the most common method to obtain funds for school tuition and related expenses. Only schools that participate in Title IV Funding are eligible for this so make sure you ask your school whether they qualify before looking into this process.

To obtain aid money from the Government, prospective students need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form, commonly referred to as the FAFSA form. Before getting into the details of this form, it is important to understand that you must plan ahead of time if you want to receive Federal financial aid.

For example, if you plan on attending massage school after high school, then you must fill out the FAFSA form while you are still a Senior in high school. This form is due very early in the year in which you plan on using aid money.

Why are you Required to Fill out the FAFSA Form?

The FAFSA form is really an information gathering form that helps the Government understand your financial situation. It is the only way they can assess what your financial needs are. Once they understand your needs, they can base their funding decision on your specific financial needs.

Why? Because most students apply for FAFSA and the Government only has a limited amount of funds set aside to provide for education. The information on the FAFSA form allows them to decide how much aid money to give to each applicant.

The FAFSA also asks you to fill out information about your parents and their financial needs. From this information the Government computes what’s called the Expected Family Contribution or EFC. This number represents what the Government expects your family to contribute toward your education. If you have well to do parents, you will likely not qualify for, or qualify for little financial aid.

Another piece of information you will be asked to fill out is the school you plan to attend. Why is this important? Because aid money is also based on the cost of attendance at given schools. For example, if you are in the same financial situation as another student but have chosen to attend a more expensive school, chances are that you will be awarded more funds because your tuition costs are going to be higher.

Your overall financial situation, coupled with the school of your choice, together will also determine what type of financial aid you are awarded. For example, you can get grants that are free and don’t have to be repaid. You can also get student loans from the Government that has to be repaid at some point. Read this article for a full breakdown of the various financial aid resources available to you.

How to Fill Out the FAFSA Form

Filling out the FAFSA form is an easy task but certainly not quick. We suggest you take your time filling out this form and not rush it. Again, the main objective of this form is to provide the Government with as much information about you and your school as you can. The better you help them understand your situation, the better they will be able to help you.

The good news is that nothing on the form is too complex. Everything is pretty straight forward and easy to understand. Take your time going through each question and then respond to the best of your ability. For the sections that require information from your parents, either sit down with them and fill that portion out together or have them fill it out in as much detail as possible.

Here are examples of some of the questions asked on the form:

  • What is your income?
  • What is your parents’ income (if you are under the age of 24)
  • What is your bank balance
  • What is your parents’ bank balance
  • What schools should we send your financial aid information to?

What Can You Use Financial Aid Funds For?

You can use aid money for all school related expenses, such as tuition, fees, books, supplies, etc. The aid money is directly deposited into your bank account or to your account at your school.

The disbursement of funds could also be a mixed process where the Government pays for your tuition directly to the school, and then provides you with the rest of the funds through check or direct deposit so that you can use it for other expenses such as book and supplies.

Note that you must be enrolled in school to receive this money. If you receive this money and later un-enroll, you will have to pay the money back. You are not required to show proof of how you used the aid money, but the Government will know whether you are enrolled or not because they communicate directly with your school. Remember that you told them what school(s) you are considering attending when you filled out the FAFSA form.

Three General Tips for Filling out the FAFSA Form

First Tip: FAFSA forms are due early in the year in which you plan on attending school. Each State has a slightly different deadline. Please check with your State to ensure you do not miss this.

Second Tip: Better yet, work directly with the school of your choice to ensure the process is moving along smoothly, and that you are aware of and not missing any critical dates. Massage schools have financial aid representatives that can work with you directly on this matter.

Finally, if your massage training program is longer than a year, don’t assume you will automatically get financial aid next year. A new FAFSA form is due every year. Why? Because the Government sets aside a budget for financial aid each year (limited amount of funds). Each year, they want to understand your financial situation and the changes that have taken place so that they can determine how much aid you qualify for during that year.

Of course it goes without saying that you should review your form thoroughly before sending it in. Make sure you keep a photo copy for your own records, or print an extra copy if you are filling it out online. Also make sure that you follow up if you have not heard after the anticipated hearing date.

Neal Lyons is a founding member and volunteer contributor at the MTSI Institute, an information based portal dedicated to guiding and assisting aspiring massage therapists establish a successful career in massage. Neal is a published author and has collaborated on several mobile applications that serve the massage profession. You can view his published work on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Sony and Kobo. You can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and on Google+

Posted in Financial Aid

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