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What to know about applying for financial aid.

Are you or your child applying for college? Are you planning to fill out a FAFSA? Despite some misconceptions, the FAFSA is worth filing for anyone going to college. FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. You only have to submit one FAFSA a year and you’re automatically considered for aid from your state and intended schools as well. You could earn grants – money for school you don’t have to pay back – and merit-based awards, and the FAFSA is not based on income alone. The FAFSA opens October 1, and the government distributes aid on a first-come, first-serve basis, so you’ll want to apply as soon as possible. We know things come up, so we’ve put together a guide for knowing when to submit your FAFSA by in order to help ensure you’re taking full advantage of your aid opportunity.

FAFSA Infographic

Once you submit your FAFSA, you’ll receive a Student Aid Report, which you should review for any mistakes. Any schools you listed on your FAFSA will receive your information, and they’ll send you an aid offer that outlines what assistance you could expect for the next year if you go to their school. Financial aid is an important part of the college decision process. Once you know what aid you’ll receive – and what you’ll need to pay out of pocket – a banker can help you figure out a financial plan that works for you.