FAFSA & Loan Information

What is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)?

The FAFSA, short for Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is the nationally standardized application form used by the U.S. Department of Education for assessing a family's finances and its ability to support a student's post-secondary education. It is the starting point and cornerstone of the entire federal financial aid system for students attending college, universities and other post-secondary institutions in America. You and your family cannot apply for any federal student aid - either federally guaranteed loans or grants - without completing the FAFSA form.

Where and when should I file the free application for federal student aid?

The FAFSA should be filed as soon as possible after January 1st for a college term that begins that fall. The application can be accessed and filed online, at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Applicants and their parents can also check the status of their application and make corrections online.

After filing the FAFSA, what's next?

After processing, the information collected from the FAFSA is then shared with the applicant and their family, as well as with the financial aid offices of the institutions to which the student has applied.

This financial information becomes the basis upon which these institutions make financial aid offers to students who have been admitted. Schools use the information provided on the FAFSA to determine eligibility for other types of financial aid provided by the federal government, from your state, or from the school itself. This aid can include grants, scholarships and work opportunities so it is important to file your FAFSA as early as possible.

Learn more about affordable student borrowing options

After you have filed your FAFSA and applied for federal loans, you may still have a gap in what you owe. You can cover your additional expenses with a Charter One TruFit Student Loan™. Also, find answers to common student loan questions or find additional student financing resources to help you reach your educational goals. If you have questions about the FAFSA or student loans, call a student loan specialist at 1-800-721-3969, and we'll help walk you through the process.

Additional student loan and college planning resources

What Type of Financial Aid is Right for Me?
Investment in an Education
What Are the Differences Between Loans, Scholarships and Grants?
How Do I Pay for My College Education?
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Student Borrowing
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