If you have a child applying to enter college in the fall semester and have already filled out the FAFSA form, congratulations! If you haven’t filled out the FAFSA form (or have never heard of it), then we need to have a serious chat.
FAFSA, also known as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, has gained a reputation among parents of college applicants as a sort of bureaucratic boogeyman. To the uninitiated filer, it might seem like incomprehensible gibberish designed to be deliberately baffling. To the experienced filer though, it may become a veritable nemesis in the most classical sense: impending, unavoidable, and fated doom.
I’m not here to sell anybody on the joys of paperwork. Far be it from me to defend a ten-page document which, at thirteen-thousand words, is almost exactly half of the length of The Old Man and the Sea. The question stands: why should I fill out an application on the same order of magnitude as a Hemingway novel?
The answer is of course, free money. By filing your FAFSA form, you become eligible to receive loans and grants for your student’s tuition, books, residency, or indirect college costs. These financial aid packages will be calculated and disbursed by each institution whose six-digit Federal School Code (FSC) appears on a filer’s FAFSA app. In the case of your student applying to Mount Saint Mary College, you’ll want to include our FSC, 002778, when you file. When your application is processed, our Office of Student Financial Services will send you a letter outlining the types of aid and their respective values. The earlier you file your FAFSA form, the faster you’ll receive a financial aid package, so aim to complete the form as soon after the October 1st start date as possible!
Every school will mail out financial aid packages at slightly different times, but if you’ve filed FAFSA and haven’t heard back from all the colleges your student has applied to by early February, it might be a good time to contact the school directly and get some more information. For Mount applicants, I always suggest that the admissions counselor for your region be your very first point of contact for anything. Even if we can’t answer your questions directly, we’ll be able to facilitate your contact with other offices on campus. If you aren’t sure who represents your region, check out this page for information about our entire team.
Understanding financial aid can be one of the most crucial (and more confusing) components of college admission; don’t feel like you have to tackle it alone. When in doubt, contact your admissions counselor!
Later this week, we’ll break down some of the specific pieces of aid that you might see in a financial aid package and delve into the nitty-gritty of loans vs. grants, interest rates, subsidization, and payment plans! Until then, make sure you share your questions about financial aid on Facebook and Instagram!