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What Is FAFSA & Why Is It Important?

They're just five letters, but they're enough to leave many students confused and wondering what in the heck to do with them: FAFSA. The FAFSA form, which stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is one of the most important forms for aspiring students who are in need of financial aid for study post-high school.

You must fill out a FAFSA at studentaid.gov in order to qualify for federal funding, which includes federal Pell Grants. Pell Grants are considered a form of gift aid and does not have to be repaid, ifrepaid if the student meets the criteria. Federal funding also includes Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loans.

In addition to federal financial aid, many schools require the FAFSA to be filled out in order for a student to qualify for other types of financial aid such as State or Institutional funding. Some scholarships also require that a FAFSA is filled out before a student is determined to be eligible.

Beginning Oct. 1 each year, any student who plans to enroll in postsecondary education can complete and submit the FAFSA. Many state or institutional financial aid programs have early filing deadlines, so you'll want to fill out and submit your form as soon as you can. Here's what you need to know.

What Do You Need to Fill Out the FAFSA?

To fill out the FAFSA form, you'll need the following information. If you are a dependent (which you can determine here), you will also need this information from your parent(s).

  • Social security number, if you have one.
  • Alien registration number, if you have one.

If you are selected for verification by the federal government or a school you've applied to, you'll likely need to present records that confirm the information you submitted on the FAFSA is true and accurate. Verification selection can occur randomly, so make sure you retain all records you used to complete the FAFSA.

What Happens After You Fill Out the FAFSA?

Once you have completed the FAFSA, you can check the status of your application online, whether you filled it out online or on paper. You'll log in to studentaid.gov with your federal student aid ID to check your status.

Within three weeks after you submit your form, you should receive a Student Aid Report/FAFSA Submission Summary from the Department of Education that summarizes the data you submitted. You and your family should look over this report to make sure there weren't any mistakes with what you submitted. If there are, you can make corrections to your FAFSA online.

Once you've determined everything on the Student Aid Report/FAFSA Submission Summary is correct, a copy is sent to UTI and the Financial Aid Department begins to create a Financial Aid Package.

You can contact the UTI financial aid departmentany time of year by calling (800) 859-7249.

Need Help Filling Out Your FAFSA?

If you need assistance while completing your FAFSA, we're here to help. You can schedule an appointment with one of our FA Support Specialists online by clicking the link below. Or call toll-free at (844) 338-0032.