How Does the FAFSA Work?

The FAFSA determines a students eligibility to receive grants and loans. Most of the eligibility is based on financial need.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an application that students complete to determine if they may receive any financial assistance such as grants, loans or work studies. A student may fill out an online application or mail a paper copy.

In order to qualify for assistance, students must be United State citizens and have a social security number. They must also have a high school diploma or General Education Development (GED) certificate. All students applying for aid must enroll in the selective services.

The government pays out almost $150 billion for aid every school year, as stated by the United States Department of Education's FAFSA website. This money is disbursed through grants such as the Pell grant, loans with low interest rates and work study programs. Grants are based on income, and generally do not have to be paid back unless the student does not meet academic requirements. Loans are also based on financial needs but must be paid back over a period of time after the student graduates. The last form of aid is work study programs, which allows the student to work on campus during the semester to earn a paycheck and gain some valuable career building skills.