Although federal loans will not always meet your financial needs for funding a college education and it may be necessary for you to take out alternative private loans as you go along, you should nevertheless start by funding your education as far as is possible through federal loans such as the Stafford loan scheme. But how do you go about applying for government student loans?
Application is made to the US Department of Education using a simple application form known as a FAFSA (Free Application For Federal Student Aid) application which can either be completed online through www.fafsa.ed.gov or as a paper application which you can obtain from your college and mail in. This form is used for all types of federal student financial aid including loans, grants and work-study and in many cases colleges will also use information from your FAFSA application to help determine whether you may be eligible for non-federal aid.
The form itself is not too difficult to complete but you will find that it contains a lot of financial questions which some students find confusing. Unfortunately this information is necessary to determine your family’s EFC (Expected Family Contribution) and thus whether or not you yourself are eligible for government financial aid and, if so, how much. Colleges will also often use this information to determine whether or not you are eligible for additional college or state aid.
Once your eligibility for government financial aid has been determined any aid will normally be paid to your college who will deduct the necessary monies to meet such things as tuition fees and room and board (if this is provided by the college) and will then pay the balance to you to meet your other educational expenses.
Student aid can be more than a little confusing, especially if you are just at the start of your college education and applying for the first time. So, if you are looking for information the best place to start is your own college’s financial aid office. You will find that your college’s financial aid administrator will have a wealth of information available not just about government financial aid, but also about aid which is available from the college itself, within your state and from a variety of other sources.
Where can I apply for federal student loans and grants? The bottom line is start with your college’s financial aid office!
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