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Navigating the FAFSA Application process

Posted at 5:00 AM, Oct 07, 2021

While it may feel like the school year just got started, if your student is headed to college next year it's time to get started on their financial aid application.

Across the country, in-state public university tuition and fees have increased 211% in the last 20 years. That means students can expect to pay almost $12,000 a year, even higher if you plan to go out of state.

The best way to cut costs is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA, even if you don't think it will help.

"[There are] some myths that are out there, right, I'm not going to get anything, I won't call for anything, you're only getting me loans," said Melissa Pizzo, the Associate Vice President of Academic Enterprise Enrollment who oversees Financial Aid and Scholarship Services at ASU.

However, Pizzo says you'd be surprised just how many students do qualify. In fact, she says about 80% of ASU students get some kind of aid.

There is no real trick to help you get federal money, but there are things you can do to better your chances.

Online sites say students who file in October or during the first three months the FAFSA is available, receive twice as much grant money as those who wait.

It's also important you avoid common mistakes like entering the wrong social security number or submitting a name that doesn't match your legal name. Also, leaving blank spaces can delay your award.

Also, the FAFSA counts income from previous years. So, for the 2022-23 school year application that's now open, you will submit 2020 tax information.

If you have income changes during the academic year, like you lost your job during the pandemic, you can update your income information and potentially qualify for aid at that time. Having the FAFSA on file already helps speed that process up.

Need help completing the application: 

Benji is a text chatbot that can answer your questions and walk you through the application.

FAFSA Toolkit for Arizona Students

Attending a Maricopa County Community College?

There are videos available online to help understand the application process. Additionally, students can sign up for a 30-minute FAFSA consultation session that happens virtually.

Pay for College with Financial Aid