The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is the main form used to determine eligibility for financial aid. By using a formula established by Congress, the FAFSA determines how much you and your family are expected to pay toward the cost of your college education each year. The formula takes into consideration family income and assets, family size, the number of children in college, and many other factors to determine your annual Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The results of the FAFSA are used in determining student grants, loan amounts, and eligibility for work study. Each college has a different deadline for filling out the FAFSA; therefore, it is important that you check deadlines at all the colleges you are interested in attending.
What is a grant?
Grants are monies from the government that students do not have to pay back. Grants are usually based on financial need (i.e. Pell Grants). However, they may also be given to students who are entering fields that are in great need of professionals (i.e. teaching).
What is a loan?
Loans are monies that students borrow and promise to pay back over time with interest. Most student loans don’t need to be repaid until after the student leaves college, and many have low interest rates. The following are examples of common loans:
- Stafford Subsidized Loans: While you are a student, the accrued interest is paid off by the government. This means you will owe the original amount of debt at the beginning of your loan repayment. Interest will begin accruing (added to the original debt) once you start paying off the loan. Loan repayment begins six months after graduation or when a student drops below half-time status (i.e. takes less than 6 credit hours). This type of loan is available to students who show financial need.
- Stafford Unsubsidized Loans: The interest accrued is capitalized (added to the original debt) from the beginning of the life of the loan. It is best to pay the interest during the time you are a student in order to keep minimal repayments when you are no longer a student. Loan repayment begins six months after graduation or when a student drops below half-time status (i.e. takes less than 6 credit hours). This type of loan is available to students regardless of financial need.
- PLUS (Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students): Parents of undergraduate students who may not qualify for other types of aid or who need additional funds may apply for this credit-based loan. Repayment begins 60 days after full disbursement. Parents can request to defer repayment until six months after graduation or when a student drops below half-time status (i.e. takes less than 6 credit hours). This type of loan is available to students regardless of financial need.
What is work study?
This is a guaranteed part-time job opportunity in the campus or in the community that will help offset the cost of your college education. Qualified students must show financial need.
What if I am only a sophomore or junior in high school?
By using the FAFSA4caster, you can get an early estimate of your eligibility for federal student financial aid.
How do I know if I am eligible for federal or state aid?
To be eligible for financial aid assistance, you must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen, registered with the Selective Service (if required), be an undergraduate, graduate or professional student enrolled at a college or university, in a degree seeking program, making satisfactory progress, and not in default on an educational loan.
Contact the Office of Financial Aid at your institution of choice or at Missouri State by calling (800) 283-4243 or by emailing email@example.com.