Overview of the Financial Aid Process
How do I apply for financial aid?
- You should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid
(FAFSA) as soon as possible after October 1 of your senior year
in high school. By completing this application you have applied for
funds awarded by most federal and state agencies.
- Applications are processed and results are sent to the colleges
you listed on the FAFSA.
- A link to your online Student Aid Report (SAR) will be provided
to you three to five days after submitting your application if you
did the FAFSA online and signed with your FSA ID. If you file your
FAFSA on paper, processing can take 2 weeks.
- Your school will then provide you with an award letter outlining types of aid for which
you are eligible. Further instructions will be included in the
letter. Use this worksheet to compare awards.
- If the financial aid office has determined that you will need a
loan, contact the financial aid administrator regarding the
procedures to apply for federal loans. Also investigate private aid
sources such as religious organizations, civic organizations and
- Apply for other scholarships and grants for which you may be
eligible outside of the college or university. For more
information, talk with your high school counselor.
When her daughter was applying to colleges, Mary Crippen says
that the financial aid offices provided excellent materials and
online instructions about the aid process.
"I was able to complete the entire process online using the
instructions without assistance from the financial aid office or
paid outside consultants," Crippen says. "It did take some time to
read through the instructions and go through the steps,
Crippen recommends keeping the family financial records
organized for easy tax preparation. She also says it's important to
keep track of deadlines for certain parts of the process.