Do Yourself a FAFSA

(Photo from Katlyn Lamp)

Ever wonder why the FAFSA (the Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is so important to fill out? Here’s the data.

Federal Student Aid is a part of the U.S. Department of Education and is the largest provider of student financial aid in the nation. Federal Student Aid provides an estimated $150 billion in federal grants, loans, and work-study funds each year. This aid is given to more than 13 million students paying for college or career school. FAFSA processes approximately 22 million FAFSA submissions each year, according to the federal government.

According to the financial aid website,, “Federal Student Aid is responsible for managing the student financial assistance programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965. These programs provide grants, loans, and work-study funds to students attending college or career school.”

Barbara Miller, assistant vice president of financial aid, explained that students cannot submit their FAFSA before the beginning of the year on January 1. The FAFSA is based on the taxes from the year before, and thus the year isn’t over until December 31. The federal deadline for filing online applications must be submitted by midnight Central Time, June 30, 2017. The state deadline in Maryland is March 1, 2016, by midnight, Central Time. Stevenson’s deadline is Feb. 15.

However, Miller announced an important change that is set to be implemented starting next year. FAFSA will open up for students to file in October instead of January.

“Instead of using the previous year’s information, students will use ‘prior-prior’ year,” said Miller. This means that for next year in October (2017-2018 FAFSA), students will fill in their 2015 taxes for that academic year.

The maximum amount of aid that one person can receive via the FAFSA depends on that person’s financial circumstances. Miller explained that the Federal Pell Grant will increase for the upcoming year to $5845. This grant is given to the neediest of all students. Freshmen in college could earn up to $5500 for the school year, and the amount increases every year after that. When the student is a sophomore, the amount increases to $6500, and then continues to increase to $7500 for the last two years of college.

Miller said, “I think for a lot of students here, their parents do their FAFSA for them. They are not familiar with their own financial aid.” She added that it is essential for students to be more informed about how to fill out a FAFSA and understand how it can help them to achieve their academic goals.



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