The first step to obtaining financial aid is completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If you speak with a financial aid representative at any college, one of the first questions they will ask is, “Have you filled out your FAFSA?”
What’s the FAFSA?
It’s a form you complete online. It’s just paperwork and it’s your passport to the Tennessee lottery scholarship and most forms of federal, state and institutional aid. The FAFSA is used to determine the amount of aid you are eligible to receive. It must be completed before the beginning of your first year of college and you must reapply each year you are in college. The form asks for information about you including income. You will need a tax return to complete the FAFSA and perhaps other income documents such as W-2 forms.
Steps for Filing the FAFSA
Obtain an FSA ID number from the Federal Student Aid website
. The FSA ID is a username and password that you will use to log in to certain US Department of Education websites. Your FSA ID identifies you as someone who has the right to access your own personal information. If you are creating an FSA ID for the first time, or if you don't link your FSA ID to your PIN, your FSA ID is considered conditional until your information is verified with the Social Security Administration (SSA). Once your information is verified with the SSA (between one–three days from the date you apply), you will be able to use your FSA ID to fully access your financial aid information.
Complete the FAFSA form online at the FAFSA website
. This will take time, so plan ahead by having your income documents organized and set aside plenty of time to complete the form.
More Financial Aid Tips
- File the FAFSA as soon after January 1 as possible.
- Give yourself plenty of time to complete the form.
- It’s OK to go ahead and fill out the FAFSA, even if you have not decided where to go to college.
- Beware of websites that offer FAFSA services for a price. FAFSA form completion is free.
- Your FSA ID is used to sign legally binding documents electronically. It has the same legal status as a written signature. Don't give your FSA ID to anyone—not even to someone helping you fill out the FAFSA. Sharing your FSA ID could put you at risk of identity theft!
- The amount of aid you might receive is dependent upon several factors. Contact a financial aid representative at the college you plan to attend to discuss your unique circumstances. Always jot down the date and name of the person you spoke with about your situation.
- There is a difference between a grant and a loan. A grant is money you don’t have to pay back. A student loan is money that you borrow and pay back over time.
- Consider scholarships as part of your education funding formula. In addition to Lottery scholarships, each TBR institution has a numerous foundation, departmental and private donor scholarships to choose from. Simply take note of deadlines and submit the paperwork!
Financial Aid and Scholarship Links