How Much Can You Get From FAFSA?

There’s just no denying it, college is expensive!  Most families’ number one concern about college is affordability.  Parent’s who manage to shell out the cash for their son or daughter’s college tuition pay a ton of money.  It’s a fact that college costs are increasing at twice the rate of inflation, leaving many families all over the world questioning how they are going to pay for tuition.  Frantically, students and their families are desperately seeking college funding advice on the internet using this short phrase: How Much Can You Get From FAFSA?

Sound familiar? Well, here’s the good news…college can be affordable for just about everyone.  With hard work, dedication, and confidence, every student can receive a college education at a drastically reduced price and in many cases even for free!  FREE?  Yes, I said free!  Think I’m crazy?  Keep reading to find out how much can you get from FAFSA…

How To Receive Federal Aid

To turn your dream college’s price tag into a reasonable tuition payment each year, you must fill out the FAFSA.  What’s a FAFSA?  Good question.

A FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid is a financial aid application form that you will need to apply for: Federal & State Grants, Work-Study Programs, and Loans.  After you complete this form, you will know how much can you get from FAFSA. January 1st is the first day that high school seniors are eligible to file their FAFSA.  All high school students should try to file as close to this day as possible.  The competition is brutal during tough economic times, so it’s important to plan ahead rather than procrastinate.

You can complete the FAFSA form online at:

Applying for the FAFSA online is the easiest way for you to apply for federal aid.  Most importantly, your data is checked by the system before it is transmitted to the processing center, so you are less likely to make errors that could add to the application processing time.  Also, if you submit your FAFSA online, you can reduce processing time by one to two weeks.

What happens after I submit my FAFSA online?

Once you submit the FAFSA, it goes to a large processing center that handles about nine million forms each year. This is where your family’s financial information is passed through the federal need formula and your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is generated.

So if you’re wondering how much can you get from FAFSA, your EFC reflects the amount your family is expected to contribute to your education, based on family earnings, net assets, savings, size of family, and number of students in college.  The EFC is sent electronically to your state scholarship agency, as well as to the colleges you listed on the FAFSA form.  State agencies and colleges will use the EFC to determine the size of your financial aid award.

What are some common FAFSA mistakes?

  • Not applying early enough
  • Not reading the instructions
  • Not fully completing the application
  • Not using the correct SSN
  • Not having their parent’s completed tax forms

Don’t make these careless mistakes.  Take time to gather all the necessary documents ahead of time and fully review your FAFSA application multiple times prior to submission so you truly understand how much can you get from FAFSA.

What’s the CSS Financial Aid Profile?

Many students often confuse the CSS Profile form with the FAFSA form. The main difference between the CSS Profile form and the FAFSA form is the type of aid they help you to apply for.

The CSS Profile is a financial aid application service provided by the College Board that is used to apply for private scholarships and institutional grant programs offered by individual schools. The FAFSA, on the other hand, is used to apply for Federal programs.

Unlike the FAFSA, which is free to complete, the CSS Profile form costs about $25 to create and submit to one school. Each additional school costs about $16 per submission. A limited amount of fee waivers are available to low-income families. Visit to learn more info.

Maintaining Federal Aid

You made it into college for free, but you wake up one morning with no desire to get out of bed…even though you aren’t feeling sick, you’re just too tired to go to class.  You think to yourself, “Missing one class won’t hurt me.”  While this may be true in the immediate future, over there the long-run, it just might hurt you.  You’ll likely be able to get the notes from that particular day from one of your classmates, but missing class consistently has the potential to hurt you academically and economically.

Federal Aid Minimum Standards

Given the rising cost of college expenses, parents who afford any college’s tuition pay a lot of money.  So, you should do everything you can to understand how much can you get from FAFSA, then maintain whatever financial aid was given to you.  Students who receive financial aid are required to meet minimum standards of satisfactory academic progress.  What does that mean?  Good question.  Students must maintain the minimum GPA defined for good academic standing (typically a 2.0), complete their degree within the maximum allowable years, and maintain a satisfactory completion rate, usually around 65% or so.  What is a completion rate?  A completion rate is the amount of courses you successfully complete compared to the amount of courses you attempted.  If you fail to meet these requirements, then you could be suspended from receiving aid for subsequent semesters.

A lot of naive students just miss class without understanding the consequences and later receive the shocking news that they have lost their Federal Aid and now must apply for a private loan in order to continue making tuition payments.  Well that doesn’t seem so bad, I’ll just get private loans.  Think again.  Private loans usually have really high interest rates.  Some private loans can have interest rates as high as 20% like credit cards!

So the next time you feel tempted to miss class for any reason, please remember that you could be in danger of negatively impacting your education by putting yourself at risk of losing some of the financial aid.

If you have an unavoidable situation that makes it necessary to miss some classes, immediately get in touch with the proper department at your school so they can attempt to keep you in good standing with your funding sources.

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Lauren Anderson is a certified school counselor who's passionate about helping students all over the world successfully transition from high school to college! After spending 6 years as a business professional, she obtained her Master’s degree in School Counseling and now spends her spare time helping students.

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