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How FAFSA® works

By Amira Yahyaoui   |  

If you're going to college, it's really important to understand how FAFSA® and financial aid work. This post explains it in plain english, and it only takes 3 minutes to read. 

The FAFSA® is the first step in the financial aid process. It's one way students can get money from the government for college.

The government will use the information you put in your FAFSA®–like income, household size, and other factors–to calculate how much aid to give you.

The government sends their calculation to the schools you listed. Then, each school puts together an aid package for you. It lists how much of each type of aid you'll get.

Not all schools will give you the same amount. Colleges outside your own state, for example, will likely give you less aid (going to college in-state is a qualification for many programs). 

The three main types of aid are grants, work study, and loans. Grants are free; work study is earned, and loans are paid back.

Grants run out first. That's why everyone tells students to do FAFSA® right when it opens. (In reality, it won't make a difference if you apply on October 1st 1am or October 6th after school, so take care of yourself and sleep).

There are 3 things to remember about FAFSA®:

1. Do it every year
2. Do it early (within reason)
3. But don't only do FAFSA®

We say FAFSA® is step one in the financial aid process because it's not the only step. There are other grants, work study aid programs, and loans not on FAFSA®.

To get this aid, you have to search for it. You have to find out if you qualify. You might have to fill out extra applications and send official documents.

This can take a while, and if you make an error or miss a deadline, you may not get the money (even if you qualify for it)!

With Mos, you can get 100% of the aid you qualify for. Mos uses just one form to determine how much aid you can get and from where. Then Mos applies for you.

If you want 100% of your financial aid, you need to do every step in the process. With Mos, you can do all the steps, all at once.

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