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What is the FAFSA?

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Keywords: College Readiness, Financial Aid, FAFSA
Subject(s): Information Skills
Grades 11 through 12
NETS-S Standard:
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Research and Information Fluency
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
View Full Text of Standards
School: The Academy of Innovative Technology, Brooklyn , NY
Planned By: Shanee Brown
Original Author: Shanee Brown , Brooklyn
Scholarships/FAFSA/Financial Aid (PowerPoint)
Internet access
FAFSA Overview Video
2017-2018 FAFSA worksheet

Essential Question:
How does knowing the college requirements help in the college application process?

Focus Question:
What are the steps necessary to receive funding for college?

Pivotal Questions:
Is the information you enter on your FAFSA private?
Do you have to submit a FAFSA every year?

Key Vocabulary:
CSS Profile
Federal Student Aid ID
IRS Data Retrieval
Student Aid Report (SAR)
Expected Family Contribution (EFC)


Do Now (5 minutes)
Introduce the new unit.
Ask students to think about: How do you get money to pay for college?
Record responses from students on the board.

Share out & Video (5 minutes)
Have students share out their responses from the Do Now
Watch the FAFSA Overview Video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUis5lityCQ)

Mini-Lesson/Direct Instruction (22 minutes)
Lead students through a discussion of the FAFSA website, the types of questions they ask, creating an ID, where to go for assistance, and additional information.

FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

All students must apply for their FAFSA unless they want to pay for college out of their own pockets.

The government uses information that you put into this online form to calculate how much money they can give you for college. You need your parent’s tax information to complete this.

FAFSA money is divided out first come first serve. You can start filling it out on October 1st of your senior year. This date is NEW!

Where do I go? -> www.fafsa.ed.gov

2) Why are they getting so personal?
The FAFSA has to ask you a lot of important and personal questions. You must look at it this way. A ton of “rich” people are applying to college. They might have a $60,000 car and $750,000 house and a lot of money saved in the bank.

If you don’t have these things, the government will be able to say, we will give our money to people who really need it and not give so much to the families who can afford it far more. This can’t really work out against you, so it’s best to just fill out the information.

3) Creating an ID
You and a parent need to sign up for a Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID). This number is what you will use to “sign” your form when you are done.

Every year you are in college, you need to renew your FAFSA this ID for you and your parent.

Go to: https://fsaid.ed.gov/npas/index.htm to be walked through the login process.

4) Parent Information
If your parents are separated of divorced, you only need to give info about 1 parent.

If your parents live together but aren’t married, you need to still provide information for BOTH of them.

If a relative has adopted you, put their information on the FAFSA.

If that person is your legal guardian, you are independent and do not have to report any parental information. The FAFSA will ask you questions to double check on your dependency status.

You are likely to get more financial aid if you depend on your parents.

5) Additional Information
If your family files U.S. tax returns, you may be asked if you want to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.” You should say “yes” if you can. The tools will fill in most of your family’s financial info for you. And colleges will know your income info is accurate. There will be less likely to ask you for proof.

Tell your parents not to worry. The information that you enter will remain safe and private and just because they help you fill it out does NOT mean that they have to pay for you to go to college.

After you answer all of the questions, you can list up to 10 schools on your FAFSA to receive aid for them. If you are applying to more than 10 or want to change your list, you can do this later.

6) Who can help me when I am stuck?
If you ever need help with your FAFSA, ask your advisory coach, a parent, a member of the future now team (Amell, Brown, Mollison, or SAM) or call the FAFSA hotline at 1800-433-3243.

7) SAR
After you complete your FAFSA, you will get an email of something called a student aid report. This is a summary of the information that you’ve submitted and from this, they create an EFC.

Look this over to make sure that all of your information is correct.

The teacher will lead a discussion to discuss what the Student Aid Report (SAR) is.

8) EFC
From the information, they will give you an EFC (Expected Family Contribution). This decides if you are allowed to get a grant, loan, or work-study, and says how much or little money you have to pay for school. It is often time a few thousand dollars. Remember this in just a moment.

They develop your EFC based on whether you depend on your parents if your parents support multiple people or siblings, how much they earn, and how savings they have.

Your parents aren’t required to pay the EFC, that amount can be your responsibility to pay with scholarships.

The teacher will discuss what the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is.

9) Follow Up
Once your application is complete, the colleges on your list should automatically get your FAFSA information. At any point, you can add colleges to your list or take them off.

Now you need to work with the colleges to get the financial aid you need:
Check your SAR to make sure there are no issues.
Call the colleges that you applied to. Talk to the financial aid office and make sure they have everything.
If your family or income has changed a lot over the past 2 years, talk to a financial aid officer at your favorite colleges. Let them know about any special circumstances that haven’t been reflected in your FAFSA.

10) CSS Profile
This is short for the College Scholarship Service Profile, is an application for financial aid.

This application is available October 1st.

Click Here for the full list of schools that require the profile:

teacher will discuss what the CSS profile is and that only some schools require it.


Click the link above. It will walk you through the entire process. DO NOT skip ahead because you will miss crucial information.

11) When do I fill it out
Both your FAFSA and the CSS profile, if your schools require it, are available October of your senior year. If you wait after that, the money that could be yours will start running out.

12) Task (13 minutes)

If you have not already done so, complete your FAFSA. You will need copies of the supplies on the following page to do so. Your YELP will help you complete it.

Review the 2017-2018 FAFSA worksheet so you can understand some of the questions that the FAFSA asks. Ask your teacher any questions now and turn in the supplies on the next slide to your YELP coach. This way we will have your information for next year EARLY!

13) Supplies you will need
A working email address
Tax returns for the year prior and employer W-2 forms
Social security number for you and one or both parents (you don’t need the physical card)
Drivers license if you have one
Records of untaxed income in your families like social security, welfare benefits, or veterans benefits.
List of the colleges you are applying to

14) Closure (5 minutes)
Review with students the supplies that they need to bring in in order to complete their FAFSA.

Materials: Slideshow