5 Things You Need to Know About the FAFSA
By Lily Garay, SEU Organizational Leadership alumna
When I was a senior in high school,
I had committed to Southeastern University and was excited to be starting a new chapter. But if I wanted to be off on my next life adventure, I would have to find a way to do so financially.
Scholarships at SEU
There are great scholarships available for about 98 percent of incoming freshmen at Southeastern, and a portion of them could come from the information I provided when I filled out the FAFSA (a.k.a. the five letters that were my ticket to paying for college).
What is the FAFSA?
FAFSA is an acronym that stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It’s an application that determines your eligibility for federal, state, and even some institutional (SEU-based) financial aid. It opens annually on October 1. Students should fill out the FAFSA every academic year they are in college.
Once completed, it’ll provide Southeastern with details to determine which scholarships, grants, work-study, and student loan opportunities you qualify for. Since some financial aid is distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, you’ll want to be sure to apply early to receive the maximum amount of financial aid.
The FAFSA can be difficult to fill out, especially if this is the first time you’re learning about all of this. Here are five tips to make the process a bit easier:
- Ask for help (it’s ok).
The FAFSA asks for a lot of information. I’m not going to lie. When I first got on the FAFSA website, I low-key freaked out. However, my financial aid counselor at SEU was able to help get me started. Your SEU admission counselor is also a great resource, and the FAFSA website has a helpline you can call for even more support!
- Gather your information before you start.
Before you begin the FAFSA form, you’ll first need to set up your own personal FSA ID and will need other personal and financial materials, such as your social security number (SSN) and tax information (if you have any).
- Get your parent or guardian’s information, too.
You’ll need to have your parents create their own FSA ID. Make sure their personal (SSN, etc.) and tax information are on hand as well. (Some parents even have the option to retrieve their tax data directly from the IRS website while completing the FAFSA!)
- Know SEU’s school code.
Southeastern’s School Code is 001521, which you’ll need to use on the FAFSA to ensure your data gets to the Student Financial Services office at SEU.
- Have patience.
Although overwhelming, you aren’t in this alone. Thousands of seniors feel the same way. Take a deep breath and get help from your parent, guardian, SEU staff support, or school counselor. It will make the FAFSA process smoother.
After you complete and submit your FAFSA, it’ll take a few days for your school to review all of the information and establish how many federal and state scholarships/grants you are eligible for.
While you wait, try to find other sources for financial aid. In addition to the scholarship resources listed in this article, there are thousands out there. Even seemingly-small ones will add up. Take it from me — a current college student — anything helps.
Remember — you’ve got this!
Note: Students should fill out the FAFSA for each academic year. The FAFSA cycle opens annually on October 1. Make sure to apply early. For more information, refer to SEU’s FAFSA page.