5 tips to help you submit your FAFSA

ASU's Financial Aid and Scholarship Services office offers support through the FAFSA process


ASU student Dhruva Lokegaonkar. Photo by Laura Sposato

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While many things have changed this year, the many ways to pay for college have not. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA, opened on Oct. 1 for the 2021–22 school year.

But what is the FAFSA?

Your Free Application for Federal Student Aid is an opportunity to receive government funding through grants, scholarships and loans to pay for your college education. The FAFSA calculates your expected family contribution, which is used by universities to create a financial aid package. Once the application is complete, Arizona State University's Financial Aid and Scholarship Services office will apply grants, scholarships and loans that you qualify for to your account. 

“The FAFSA is a tool that opens the door for federal funding options. A loan can be a tool to use if that means it helps a student get a degree. There’s a lifetime value of what a student can earn over the course of their lifetime with a bachelor’s degree,” said Melissa Pizzo, associate vice president of scholarship services. 

If you’ve never completed the application on your own or your personal circumstances have changed due to the pandemic, the Financial Aid and Scholarship Services office can help you get through the process and understand next steps. 

Submit the FAFSA and understand how you qualify for federal aid next year. ASU's priority FAFSA filing deadline for fall 2021 is Jan. 15, 2021. Students have until June 30, 2021, to submit the FAFSA. Aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, so apply early.

To guide you through your financial aid journey, here are five tips to help you submit your FAFSA and  find ways to pay for college for the next academic year. 

1. Submit your FAFSA early. The earlier you submit your application, the better opportunity you have to receive the most funding. The ASU Financial Aid Office recognizes that each student’s financial situation is different, now more than ever. When you submit early, it allows the office to ask questions and request additional information to get funding. 

2. Have your additional documents ready. You may need additional documentation to help the office see how much funding is needed for each student. Some of the important documents and information to keep handy include:

  • Your Social Security number.
  • Federal income tax from 2019.
  • Your parents' income tax and nontaxable income information.

Note: The 2021-2022 FAFSA goes back to your 2019 income tax information. Also if you are an out-of-state student, you or your parents can also upload necessary documents online

3. Visit the ASU scholarship portal.

  • The portal hosts a multitude of scholarships for all types of students depending on their unique status. Variables include major, year in school, ethnicity, and specific school/college. 
  • As you search for scholarships, you are able to bookmark the ones of interest to you. 
  • The portal saves and streamlines your responses, allowing you to use it for more than just one scholarship. It is also suggested that students search for scholarships in their local community. 

4. Consider loans. There are two different types of loans you can acquire as a student: unsubsidized loans and subsidized loans. Loans offer you the ability to pay back money borrowed with varying amounts of interest. 

  • Unsubsidized: Loans offered to undergraduate and graduate students that accrue interest while the student is in college.
  • Subsidized: Loans offered to undergraduate students that do not accrue interest until 6 months after the student leaves college or graduates. 

5. Think you’re done? Check out My ASU. Once you receive a message from ASU Financial Aid and Scholarship Services about your FAFSA, visit My ASU to follow the checklist and financial aid tracker for the status of your profile. 

With the completion of the FAFSA, the university provides additional types of aid such as grants, federal work study and hourly employment to help students pay for college. The following funding options do not require you to repay the award. 

  • Grants: Awards for qualified students with exceptional financial need. 
  • Federal work study: Campus-oriented job opportunities for students with financial need.

While funding options are available, learning to manage your money can also set you up for financial freedom after you receive your education. ASU’s Adulting 101 provides access to virtual courses and resources that build financial wellness and success. 

You can also learn and explore how other Sun Devils pay for college.

If you have questions or don’t know where to start, you can contact ASU Financial Aid and Scholarship Services by calling 855-278-5080 (toll free) or chatting with a financial aid representative by clicking the Help link in My ASU.

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