Who Needs To Complete A FAFSA Form

The first question prospective students ask when thinking about college is how are they going to afford it. In most cases, the answer is by applying for federal student aid. However, a significant number of people believe they won’t qualify for financial aid, missing out on almost $3 billion of unclaimed grant money last year.

To not leave this money behind, prospective students must complete a form called FAFSA, or Federal Application for Federal Student Aid. There are no restrictions on who can receive financial assistance to complete their education. The only disqualifying criteria is to not fill out the form.

What Is a FAFSA form?

Each year, the U.S. Department of Education approves more than $120 billion in financial assistance for students. This includes federal grants, loans and work-study funds accessible to more than 13 million current and prospective students. As a result, the government has become the largest sponsor of student financial aid nationwide.

The FAFSA is the document used by the government to determine how much assistance a current or prospective students qualifies for. The form must be submitted annually by both undergraduate and graduate students, and includes financial information about them and their families.

The FAFSA should not be confused with College Scholarship Service or CSS Profile, which some colleges also request. A CSS Profile, is an application distributed by nonprofit organization College Board that allows college students to access lesser known sources of financial aid. However, students must pay to complete a CSS Profile, and it only grants access to funding from institutions rather than the federal government.

Who needs to complete a FAFSA form?

The FAFSA form should be completed by anyone who is or may enroll in the future. Whether they are a high school senior or continuing education as an adult, filing a FAFSA form is critical to access financial aid. A common misconception is that only currently enrolled students have access to a FAFSA form. However, the government has no restrictions on who can do so other than being a U.S. citizen or legal resident. The FAFSA application is easiest if completed online. On average it will take 23 minutes to complete according to a survey by FastWeb.

Why students need to complete the FAFSA form?

The main reason to fill out a FAFSA form is because it gives prospective students access to financial assistance. The government relies on information provided through a FAFSA form to determine which type of aid is best for a particular student. However, to help federal authorities better determine how much help someone needs, people have to submit a FAFSA form every year.

Aside from Pell and FSEOG grants, the government also allocates resources federal student loans according to the FAFSA. The form allows agencies to set reasonable repayment terms that students can meet based on the averages.

How to fill out the form

The FAFSA form is submitted through the U.S. Department of Education website. Applicants will need to create an account before submitting the documents needed to complete the form. Adult students will have to provide their social security number and driver’s license number. Legal residents must provide their Alien Registration number.

Tax documents are also needed to complete the FAFSA. Tax returns for those who have held a job before, W-2 documents, records of untaxed income and bank statements may be required in some cases but not all. The Internal Revenue System (IRS) has a useful tool called Data Retrieval Tool, or DRT, which can be used to perform an automatic transfer of tax information from the prior year’s tax filing to the FAFSA application. The online application will request your permission to search for a prior year’s tax return.

During this process, prospective students must choose at least one college or career school they would like to attend. However, this doesn’t mean they must enroll to any of those listed. The chosen institutions will receive submitted information and help federal authorities determine how much financial aid will be awarded.

The U.S. Department of Education continues to improve the process of awarding students financial aid. An annual budget of $120 billion for current and prospective students should be enough incentive to seek financial support. There are funds available for everybody who applies.


Grants And Scholarships For Adults Returning to College

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are more than 8 million adult students in America. A significant number have previously attended college but were unable to finish their degrees. Others were willing to come back, but the the right circumstances had yet to materialize.

The federal government has a variety of grant and scholarship programs adult students can take advantage of to achieve their educational goals. Some organizations and private institutions also collaborate with initiatives which can provide significant relief to adults pursuing a college degree.

In this article, we discuss the best known grant and scholarship programs adult students can rely on to make attending college a more affordable journey. With the number of adult students expected to rise 18 percent by 2025, it is important to understand which methods are available to reduce the cost of attending college.

Completing the FAFSA application

Adults thinking about returning to college should prepare to fill the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form, commonly known as FAFSA. This step is required to receive any type of government assistance, including financial aid from the major federal grant programs.

Some might think FAFSA applications are only for high school senior students. However, anyone can fill out the form. Adults students can apply freely if they are U.S. citizens or legal resident, have a valid Social Security number and a high school or general equivalency diploma (GED). To fill out the form, prospective students must provide detailed information about themselves and their family. Additionally, the federal government requires financial documents, such as tax returns, to determine how much money can be awarded through its programs.

Filling out the FAFSA form should be done annually, even if the person has yet to decide when to attend college. Doing so will create a record of their social and economic situation that’s needed to access federal student loans if grants are not available. Federal student loans have generous conditions, including low interest rates and flexible repayment policies.

Grants To Go Back To School

Students in the United States have access to a variety of programs which help pay for college. The U.S. Department of Education administers the largest education grant programs in the country, the Pell and FSEOG grants. They provide financial assistance to low-income Americans who cannot afford an education, including adults returning to college. State governments often run programs offering financial assistance to local residents.

Grants, unlike loans, don’t have to be repaid. They are a form of subsidy given by the government as long as certain conditions are met. The main requirements to qualify for a federal education grant are filling the FAFSA form and falling within the eligible income brackets. Other factors such as maintaining a Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP), being a U.S. citizen or eligible resident, and having a high school or equivalent diploma are also taken into consideration.

Pell Grants

The Pell Grant is a subsidy provided by the United States government to undergraduate students who cannot pay for college. The program was created in 1965 and is currently the largest educational grant in the country with more than 6 million recipients including students from colleges and vocational schools. Pell grant money is awarded annually, usually at the beginning of the academic year.

To become eligible for a Pell grant, prospective students should fill and submit the FAFSA form before the academic period begins. The government will use the information provided by the applicant to produce a number called the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This number is used to confirm the applicant’s eligibility and determine the amount of money to be given during the academic period.

Adult students should keep in mind that the government evaluates a wide array of factors when calculating how much money is awarded to Pell grant recipients. For example, college tuition and annual family income have a significant effect in the calculation. Whether the student plans to attend college part-time or full-time is also relevant. As of January 2018, the maximum amount of financial aid which can be received through a Pell Grant is around $6,000 annually for up to six years.

FSEOG Grants

The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, better known as FSEOG, is an alternative for students who cannot afford college. Similar to Pell Grants, FSEOG Grants are awarded to undergraduate students who meet the required criteria. However, the FSEOG program awards between $100 and $4,000 annually only to U.S. citizens. Legal residents have no access to the program and must look for other funding avenues.

Another key difference is that the federal government often awards FSEOG funding directly to educational institutions, which then choose which students are in financial need and how much money they require to successfully complete their school year. In this case, the federal government covers up to 75 percent of the subsidy, while the school is responsible for the remaining 25 percent.

Adults students who were unable to receive a Pell grant can try and apply for FSEOG funding. There requirements are similar to Pell Grants with the exception that only students of participating schools are eligible. FSEOG grants are often awarded on a first come first served basis, so applying as early as possible increases the chances of receiving the grant. Students who want to maximize their chances can apply to receive Pell and FSEOG funding simultaneously. However, they can only participate in one of these grant programs at a time.

TEACH Grants

Students pursuing a degree in teaching or educational administration are eligible to receive financial aid from the federal government through the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant, better known as the TEACH Grant. This form of financial assistance is available to undergraduate, post-baccalaureate and graduate students. However, they must be willing to teach in a low income school for at least for years to become eligible for the grant.

TEACH recipients receive as much as $4,000 from the government to finance their educational careers. If, for any reason, a student is unable to complete the mandatory four-year tenure at a low income school, the government turns their grant into a federal student loan that must be paid back. Adult students interested in this funding source must carefully consider the mandatory conditions before accepting a TEACH grant.

Grants awarded by local governments

Many states run grant programs designed to help local residents get an education without going deep into debt. For example, the state of New Jersey operates a financial assistance programs targeting adults who have previously abandoned college. The programs offers them financial incentives to continue studying without affecting their finances.

Other states run similar programs meant to provide a way for the local population to increase their earnings. Adult students looking for local help can receive information about regional assistance programs at the local government offices.

Scholarships for Adults

Scholarships are a popular funding source for adult students across the country. Many organizations and educational institutions award scholarships every year to help both young and adult students afford the cost of their degrees. Like grants, scholarships don’t have to be repaid, though the requirements to receive them are often higher.

Adult students looking for financial assistance through scholarships should keep several things in mind. Unlike grants, scholarships are often based on high grades or previous academic achievements. The individual talent of applicants is also important. Some institutions only award scholarships to students focusing on academic subjects which are of strategic value to the grant committee.

There are some scholarships who behave like grants, though most are given following unique criteria. For example, the Return2College scholarship is awarded every year to students pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree. The prize is $1,000 and applicants must submit an essay to be eligible. The Unigo $10K Scholarship awards $10,000 to students enrolled in an accredited post-secondary institution. The process to participate is similar to Return2College: students must submit an essay answering the question set by the Unigo organization.

Some scholarships target older students specifically. For example, the Imagine America scholarship awards $1,000 to nontraditional students who are 21 years or older. The program is meant to help adults going through financial hardship. However, they must become members of the Imagine America foundation to become eligible for the scholarship.


Education Grants For Single Parents

We’ve heard amazing stories of single parents completing an education while raising children full time. However, there are many more stories of single parents who forget about continuing their education after they have children. Often times a single income may be just enough to cover basic expenses. For many single moms and dads, getting a student loan to attend college is not accessible and the interest payments are not affordable.

This guide is about finding sources of financial aid that single parents can rely on to finish college. Education grants are one valuable but commonly misunderstood resource for adult students. In this guide, we’ll show you specific benefits offered to single parents who want to obtain a college degree.

What are education grants?

Education grants are a form of financial assistance that academic institutions, non-profit organizations, and government agencies provide to applicants who show academic potential but lack the means to cover college expenses. Unlike scholarships, which usually only cover the cost of college tuition, education grants provide a yearly sum of money that students can use to cover most college-related expenses along with food and housing.

Some institutions ask participants to sign up for other federal programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or Food Stamps, to make sure they have access to basic necessities. Single parents, unlike other students, have to also manage child care. Government agencies may require them to enroll in childcare programs such as Head Start or Pre-K before they can attend college. This is to ensure basic necessities are met while pursuing a college degree.

The most popular grants may have what you need

The most popular education grant programs for single parents, include the Pell and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity (FSEOG) Despite their focus on first time college students, Pell and FSEOG grants are also made available to single parents who don’t yet have a bachelor degree. To participate in either program, applicants must fill out and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form, commonly known as FAFSA. This document will help the government determine how much financial assistance applicants are eligible for. Eligibility is determined based on individual income and family income.

Single parents are usually granted the highest amount provided by grant programs. For Pell Grants, that amount won’t exceed $6,000 each year, while FSEOG grants award no more than $4,000. The amount of financial support given to a single parent is reviewed each year, taking into account changes in their annual income, and participation in other federal programs. Grantees receive the money over a period of six years. After that, applicants must rely on other financial sources to continue their studies.

Pell Grants and FSEOG Grants are mutually exclusive. This means that a single parent who receives college funding through a Pell grant will not be able to obtain the benefits of a FSEOG grant, and vice versa. Choosing which grant is best for you depends on your financial stability, income level and academic record. Obtaining a Pell grant may be challenging because, thousands of students apply each year, making the awarding process very competitive. Single parents may have better luck through a FSEOG application because Agencies often award FSEOG funds directly to institutions. Institutions have greater flexibility to determine which of their potential students need the most help.

Submitting a FAFSA application also provides additional benefits. Single parents who graduated from high school after 2005 have access to the Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG). This is a merit-based program that awards college funds according to a student’s academic record. Similar to the National SMART Grant, the ACG program does not consider income level when choosing recipients. This may make it harder for single mothers and fathers to receive the benefits, but those with outstanding high school grades and other academic achievements are often approved.

Explore other options in your state or community

Pell and FSEOG grants may be the most popular avenues to obtain college funding aside from loans. However, they are not the only options available. States and local communities often run parallel programs best suited to reach the needs of their residents.

For example, the state of New York runs a popular program called Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), which awards up to $5,000 in college funds each year to students who attend a designated institution. Undergraduates living in New Mexico have access to the College Affordability Grant (CAG), which awards up to $1,000 per semester to students going through financial hardship. This group often includes residents who are single parents. The CAG benefit can be renewed for up to 8 semesters. People living in Kansas can take advantage of the state’s Comprehensive Grants program, which awards up to $3,000 annually in college funds.

Those are a few examples of the financial assistance programs individual states have set in motion to support residents who want to or already attend college. Single parents are often automatically eligible to receive the benefits, given that their average annual income nationwide is close to the federal poverty line at around $28,000, or about a third of the average income of two-parent families. This means that a significant number of single-income households are eligible for numerous federal programs, including education grants and college support.

The rise of single parents remains a concern nationwide. Getting a college degree is proven to bring single-income households into higher earning positions. For some, an education grant is the proven path to achieve independence.