⇚ Back : Understanding FAFSA

Lisa Blazer: “The FAFSA’s going to be your first step, in the process to getting financial aid.”


Maren Lujan: “FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. What that means is you’re applying for money from the government to go to college.”


Andres Arredondo: “So, based on your income, based on your assets, based on the number of children your parents have that are in college – all that stuff together will actually tell each school how much federal money that you’re eligible for.”


Maren Lujan: “If you don’t do FAFSA, then you won’t be able to receive those grants from the government. You won’t be able to receive those loans with low interest rates.”


Darrell: “FAFSA goes out to the colleges that you apply to – it actually shows you, um, like, which grants that you actually qualify for, and which loans that you qualify for as well.”


Lisa Blazer: “You’re going to see maybe some grants, any scholarships you’ve been awarded, if you have applied for scholarships. You might see Federal work study, or even state work study, or institutional. Maybe the institution offered you some institutional grants along with state grants, that you might be eligible for. So, we can’t tell you how much you’re eligible for, until you complete that FAFSA. That’s why it’s such an important piece of the process.”


Andres Arredondo: “You can access it at fafsa.gov – G.O.V. Uh, and it’s completely free. The first F in FAFSA is ‘free’. Uh, financial aid professionals at every school are available to help you. And we get paid to give you the information.’”


Andres Arredondo: “January first of your senior year is when you’re allowed to actually submit a FAFSA form.”


Lisa Blazer: “There are some great benefits for applying early. A lot of schools have limited funds, and so they award on a first-come, first-served basis. So, because of that, if – the earlier you apply, the better chances you have of receiving maybe some free money, or better financial aid.”


Jacob Pietsch: “I definitely encourage any current high school students to apply as early as possible…just because I feel like it’s so hard to navigate the financial aid process for your first time. Your second semester of your senior year of high school, when you’re trying to have fun.”


Lisa Blazer: “If you’re applying in January, you may not have done your taxes yet. The great thing is, you can do an estimate. So, if you have your previous year’s income taxes, and your income has been about the same, you can use that information to initially apply.”


Andres Arredondo: “Submitting the FAFSA early, regardless of whether you submit your taxes, will hold your place in line.”


Lisa Blazer: “That’s why we tell everybody: Apply early, apply early, apply early.”


Andres Arredondo: “They need the information to verify income. Uh, because we can’t just give out free money to everybody.”


Maren Lujan: “Some families may be concerned with giving all this personal information.”


Lisa Blazer: “It’s going to the Department of Education, and then back to the school, and we’re required to keep everything confidential. So that’s something that’s really important to us. We don’t share that information with anybody else.”


Maren Lujan: “The government’s going to use this information to assess how much financial need they have: Do they really need the money for the college? They want to make sure that the grants and loans, they’re going to the right students.”


Andres Arredondo: “And by doing that, we require these sensitive documents like tax forms and W2 forms.”


Maren Lujan: “It’s a lot of paperwork, but it’s worth it. This is free money. If you can put in one hour of work right now and get ten thousand dollars – you know, I wish I was getting paid ten thousand dollars an hour. You know…take that job any day.”