Applying for financial aid and getting the money you need for college is simplified when you take one step at a time. After you review the financial aid application process below, you’ll understand how to get started to pay for college.
Step 1: Apply for Financial Aid
It’s important to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), even if you don’t think you’ll be eligible for financial aid. Colleges and universities use the information supplied on the form to determine which scholarships, grants, work-study awards and federal loans you’ll be offered. Learn more about the FAFSA and complete the FAFSA online.
Step 2: Review Your Student Aid Report (SAR)
The Department of Education will send you a SAR three to five days after you submit your FAFSA online. This report summarizes the information you provided on your FAFSA and it indicates how much you are expected to contribute toward your educational expenses. This amount is important for planning purposes.
It’s important to carefully review your SAR so you can make necessary corrections to your FAFSA data. You can make FAFSA Corrections online.
Step 3: Compare Your Financial Aid Packages
The schools listed on your FAFSA will receive copies of your SAR and use the information to prepare financial aid packages for you. Your financial aid packages or financial aid Award Letters will list the scholarships, grants and work-study programs the school is awarding you along with your eligibility for federal student loans.
Compare your packages to understand the difference between the costs of the colleges you wish to attend and the aid offered. View a sample financial aid package that shows you how a college or university that seemed out of reach can fit into your budget.
If your financial aid package indicates that you are eligible for federal student loans and you decide to borrow, you can apply for these loans directly from the federal government.
Tip: If you need to borrow, compare federal and private student loans to find the loans that best fit your needs.