A stressful task was recently assigned to college students across the country: The Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA, a federally-provided application for educational financial aid, opened for applications on Oct. 1.
Every year the U.S. Department of Education opens the application, which asks students to report information about themselves and, if the student is younger than 24, their parents’ financial information.
Trevor Markovich, the director of financial Aid at Albion College, said that all students at Albion currently receive some form of financial aid, and 85 percent of those students also qualify for need-based financial aid, which means that most, if not all, students at Albion should consider filing the FAFSA.
Markovich explained that the FAFSA uses formulas to determine how much a student should be awarded in financial aid in the form of scholarships, loans and grants.
“You cannot receive federal financial aid without the FAFSA,” Markovich said.
How to Apply
The FAFSA can be completed online at the federal student aid website or via mail on a printed version of the form. Students should set aside a few hours of their time to complete the application.
Markovich said that the submission of the FAFSA should be done while the student and parent are together, and he warned that the most common obstacle to completing the FAFSA is that students and families often forget their login information, something that his office has no power to help with.
“That is the biggest piece that students don’t know: their password,” Markovich said. “They get locked out and ask us for help, but that’s out of our control.”
Markovich said that it is best for students to be in the same room as their parents, with their documents at hand when completing the form.
What you need
The FAFSA requires a lot of information, which can be overwhelming. There are two important things for students to make sure they have for the FAFSA: Time and taxes.
Students will need time, sometimes a few hours, to complete the FAFSA and submit information from their parents’ taxes.
Markovich said the online FAFSA form does carry information over from previous years, so students who are re-filing may not need as much time to complete every detail, however it is best to make sure all information is up to date.
Students will have to update their financial information with the taxes their parents filed last year. Students who file their own taxes will also need to provide financial information about themselves. This information is essential to the process, said Markovich.
At many educational institutions, the earlier a student submits their FAFSA, the more money they will be eligible to receive. At Albion, however, the date of submission does not affect a student’s eligibility for aid. “For our returning students the date won’t impact the aid that they receive from Albion,” he said.
Although Albion College does not have a firm deadline, students from Michigan should aim to submit their FAFSA before March 1, 2023 – the deadline for the Michigan State Grant, which can earn a student up to $3,000 towards their tuition.
Each state has its own deadlines for state grants and competitive scholarships, and students from out of state should consult the full list of state deadlines on the federal student aid website.
Still Stressed Out?
Students who have questions about submitting their FAFSA are encouraged to visit the office of financial aid and ask for help.
The Office of Financial Aid, located on East Cass Street, is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Students who have questions are encouraged to drop in.
“Almost 99% of the time someone here is available to meet with a student,” Markovich said. “If you’re having trouble with anything, come in and see us. Let’s have a conversation.”