One of the most important documents in the scholarship process is the FAFSA. The FAFSA is Free Application for Federal Student Aid. With the rising cost of a college education and the increase in the number of students applying for scholarships, most foundations and private institutions are requesting a FAFSA for consideration of a scholarship.
Once the FAFSA is completed, the Department of Education will release a SAR (Student Aid Report) to the student usually within 1-2 days of completing the FAFSA. It is a basic summary of all of the information inputted into the FAFSA. When the FAFSA is completed, a Financial Aid Advisor at your college will use your EFC (Estimated Family Contribution) number as a “gauge” to determine your eligibility for federal financial aid programs. More and more foundations and private institutions are requesting the FAFSA and to various degrees, the information will be used to determine the level of need for a scholarship. Of course, in the case of merit based scholarships where your eligibility is solely determined by a well-written essay, recommendations, academic merit and community involvement, the FAFSA is not required.
So to summarize, if you are pursuing a need-based scholarship or where “need” is a minor consideration for eligibility for a scholarship being offered, please make sure that you have completed the latest versions of the FAFSA, in which case is 11-12 FAFSA and the 12-13 FAFSA.
For more information about the FAFSA, you can go to http://www.fafsa.ed.gov.