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When it comes to college, filling out your FAFSA® doesn’t have to be so complicated. We’re here to help make the financial aid process easier with FAQs, resources, educational materials, and more.
Let’s start with the basics: FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and must be filled out every year a student hopes to receive federal financial aid—which can include loans, grants, and work-study. If you’d like a step-by-step overview, check out our convenient FAFSA cheat sheet.
Here are some articles covering FAFSA basics:
Need help determining which loan works best for you? Here’s a guide to the different types of student loans available.
Direct PLUS Loans are offered to parents paying for their dependent child’s undergraduate education and to graduate or professional degree-seeking students.
In addition to federal loans, private student loans are another way to pay for your education. Private student loans do not require a FAFSA application, and are often used as a supplement to federal aid.
It can sometimes be difficult to determine which loan option will work best for you. These comparison articles might help you choose from federal, private, or both.
There are some basic eligibility requirements to receive federal student aid—including federal student loans. Check out the specific criteria outlined below. Or, for a deeper dive, you can refer to our student loan requirements article.
To receive federal aid, students must either be enrolled, or accepted for enrollment in an eligible degree or certificate program. You must be enrolled as a “regular student,” meaning you have been accepted at the institution in order to obtain a degree, certificate, or other recognized education credential offered. Students must also be enrolled at least half-time to be eligible for Direct Loan Program funds.
Part of the FAFSA includes signing a certification statement. This states that you do not have any federal student loans in default and you do not owe money on a federal grant. Signing this statement certifies that you will use any federal student aid you receive for educational purposes only.
Students must prove that they are qualified to obtain a college education by showing they have a high school diploma, General Education Development (GED) certificate, completed high school education by a homeschool approved under state law, or are enrolled in an eligible career pathway program. Career pathway programs require that you also meet an “ability-to-benefit” alternative that you can learn more about here.
In addition to loans, student aid can also come in the form of grants, scholarships, and work-study jobs.
Now that you know the basics, let’s go through some important dates within the student loan process.
Each state has its own deadline for submitting the FAFSA form, and some states award state-specific grants that will have their own deadlines for submission as well. To find the deadline for your state, check the official FAFSA website.
In addition to state deadlines, colleges may also have specific deadlines that vary by school. Check with the schools that you are interested in attending to ensure you submit your FAFSA on time.
Once you have a student loan, how do you go about paying it back?
When it comes to financial aid, we know there are a lot of topics to cover. Here are some additional resources that may make the process easier.
Sometimes the costs of college can exceed the amount of federal student aid you receive. That’s when you might consider a private student loan with SoFi. SoFi offers no-fee student loans with an easy application that can be done entirely online.
SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.
SoFi Student Loan Refinance
IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO REFINANCE FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS PLEASE BE AWARE OF RECENT LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT HAVE SUSPENDED ALL FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS AND WAIVED INTEREST CHARGES ON FEDERALLY HELD LOANS UNTIL THE END OF DECEMBER DUE TO COVID-19. PLEASE CAREFULLY CONSIDER THESE CHANGES BEFORE REFINANCING FEDERALLY HELD LOANS WITH SOFI, SINCE IN DOING SO YOU WILL NO LONGER QUALIFY FOR THE FEDERAL LOAN PAYMENT SUSPENSION, INTEREST WAIVER, OR ANY OTHER CURRENT OR FUTURE BENEFITS APPLICABLE TO FEDERAL LOANS. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION. Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.