Federal Student Aid is an office that resides inside the U.S. Department of Education and works to ensure that all eligible individuals have the opportunity to benefit from federally funded financial assistance for higher education. FAFSA stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is the first step to applying for this financial aid opportunity.
Federal Student Aid programs are authorized under the amended Title IV of the Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1965. Assistance that a potential student may obtain includes federal grants, subsidized and unsubsidized loans and work-study programs.
An individual planning to attend post-secondary school who wishes to be eligible for federal assistance will need to submit a FAFSA once a year for the future academic calendar.
The Federal Student Aid office performs a range of responsibilities in order to best serve those who wish to continue their education beyond high school. These duties include educating students and families on the process of obtaining aid, processing millions of student financial aid applications a year and disbursing billions of dollars to students through universities, colleges and other higher education facilities. Additional duties include servicing millions of student accounts, both for those who are in school, have graduated or left the institution, obtaining repayment from borrowers and operating and managing the secure information technology systems that enable online tools to manage the billions of dollars in aid to be disbursed, requested and repaid.
Many higher education facilities will require a FAFSA to be filled out by students. The form will include detailed tax information for both the student and their family, and it is advisable to keep last year's tax returns and use them to answer all questions in the FAFSA form.
Using the information provided on the form, the Financial Aid Office will establish a budget for the average educational costs the student will accrue during the average nine month academic calendar year for the particular institution. Once the costs are determined, they will be compared against any income or potential money available to cover the sum, such as expected family contribution.
Filing a FAFSA provides a student the opportunity to partially cover the cost of attending secondary education. It provides beneficial guidance to students and families before, after and during their tenure at a university about the financials involved.