Free Application for Federal Student Aid applications open online

KANSAS, Okla. – Students planning to attend college can attempt to lessen the financial burden by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

FAFSA, as it is more commonly known, can provide qualified students with either a Pell Grant or student loans options.

Liz Cotrill, Northeastern State University Education Talent Search assistant director, met with students on Oct. 5 at Kansas High School for a College Info Night to inform them about FAFSA.

“The FAFSA is based off of their parents’ income, parent or guardian’s income from the 2020 taxes,” she said. “That is how it has a calculation that it does after your parent has put in their information and it will then tell you at the end how much you qualified for.”

Applications opened on Oct. 1 for the 2021-22 school year. The recommended deadline to turn in application is Dec. 1 due to limited funding. Cotrill encourages students to complete their applications as soon as possible.

“The sooner you get it filled out the better. They can fill out the FAFSA up until they go to college but as soon as possible,” she said. “Fill that FAFSA and get it done. Do it on either fall break, Thanksgiving break or Christmas break. Get it done by one of those breaks.”

FAFSA funds are also not affected by where a student decides to attend college.

“It does not matter where your student goes. They can FAFSA at whatever college they decide to go,” said Cotrill. “This is really important. You will never pay online to fill out the FAFSA. FAFSA is free to apply.”

She said a student will need his or her parent’s or guardian’s 2020 income tax information, Social Security number and date of birth.

“Students will have to have a FSA (federal student aid) ID, so will the parent or guardian,” Cotrill said. “That will stay with them from them with the beginning all the way until they’re done with college. So they will have to keep up with that login and that password, it’s very important.”

FAFSA applications need to be completed each year the student plans to attend college to qualify and receive funds.

Financial aid comes from federal, state, school and private sources. The types of aid provided are grants that do not have to be repaid, loans or work-study jobs. 

 “(The) Pell Grant is good. We like Pell Grants. Students do not have to pay that back,” she said. “There are different types of loans. There are subsidized loans and there’s unsubsidized loans. Subsidized loans are good because it’s a low interest rate and the U.S. Department of Education generally pays that interest rate while your student is in college. Your unsubsidized loan is going to have a higher interest rate. It’s important to pay attention to details when taking out a loan.”

Institutions that students attend may also provide scholarship opportunities. Cotrill said the most important thing about applying for FAFSA is students being able to get funds to help pay for college.

“Colleges are going to cost money, and in order to not have to pay as much money for colleges or little to nothing, this is a fantastic opportunity to not have such a burden to pay for college,” she said.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, its office of Federal Student Aid provides more than $120 billion in financial assistance annually. FAFSA information and the application is available at studentaid.gov or via the myStudentAid app.