How Long Does FAFSA Take (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 5 – 10 Days

FAFSA which stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid is a scheme for students who are seeking financial aid. Certain students are unable to afford their education expenses and think of leaving their studies midway. To prevent this from happening and to encourage students to complete their education, the FAFSA scheme was introduced.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is the official form to apply for if one wants help in form of federal financial aid to pay their hefty college fees. The interested applicants are required to fill the form with their accurate details to qualify for financial aid by FAFSA.

The FAFSA, based on information collected by the applicant, while filling the form, determines which candidate will receive the financial aid. The FAFSA gives financial aid to students in terms of loans, scholarships, and grants based on their responses filled in the form.

How Long Does FAFSA Take?

ConditionsDuration
If FAFSA is submitted online and provided with an email address3 – 5 days
If FAFSA is submitted online but not provided with an email address 7 – 10 days
If FAFSA is filed in paperAbout 3 weeks

The process for filling out the application form for FAFSA is widely known for being complex as it requires the applicant to respond to a variety of questions that could consume a lot of time. Questions asked in FAFSA range from being basic questions like name, address, date of birth, etc to detailed questions about one’s finances and requirements of financial aid.

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To avail of the facility of financial aid, one needs to ensure that every piece of information provided is 100% accurate without an iota of misinformation. Students and their parents applying for FAFSA need to supply their income statements, bank account statements, and other related documents to validate the data provided in the application form.

Each FAFSA application period consists of nineteen months. The period starts on 1st October before the award year and ends on 30th June of the award year. For example, the FAFSA application forms for the year 2021 – 22 would be required to be filled and submitted between 1st October 2020 to 30th June 2022.

Once the FAFSA application form is submitted, the United States Department of Education processes the application form in about 3 to 5 days. In some cases, this process could even take as long as 7 to 10 days to get completed.

Why Does FAFSA Take This Long?

FAFSA application forms should generally be filled as early as possible as the financial aid is distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis based on the information collected from the applicant. One should fill and submit as early as possible to ensure that the deadline for submitting forms is not passed. Families applying for FAFSA should keep in mind that they need to submit a new application every year to maintain the financial aid previously received or to even apply for the first time.

To be eligible for FAFSA, a student must be enrolled in a college or university and should possess a genuine need for financial aid. The FAFSA scheme by the office of Federal Student Aid belonging to the United States Department of Education is said to have provided $150 million in financial aid as grants, scholarships, and loans to about 13 million students annually.

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Grants are provided to those with extremely weak financial backgrounds. Scholarships are awarded to meritorious students to help them pursue their higher studies. Loans are also provided to the needy at extremely subsidized rates which after a specific period would be required to be repaid, unlike grants and scholarships which need not be repaid.

Although there is no income limit to qualify for FAFSA, factors like family size and need for financial aid are estimated as per the responses filled in the FAFSA application form and documents submitted therewith. Families having a genuine requirement for financial aid should take advantage of this scheme to mitigate their burden of paying college fees. To avail of this benefit, one must kindly ensure to fill the application form well in advance before the deadline.

Conclusion

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an application form that enables students to determine their eligibility for the United States financial aid scheme. To claim the financial aid, interested students need to fill out the application form and submit the requisite documents. Such students can be U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, or eligible non-citizen and must have their social security numbers. Generally, a FAFSA takes about 5 – 10 days to get processed depending upon how it was submitted to the U.S. Department of Education for approval of the financial aid application.

References

  1. https://academic.oup.com/qje/article-abstract/127/3/1205/1921970
  2. https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s11162-014-9340-0.pdf

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