WHAT IS FEDERAL STUDENT AID?
Federal student aid is funded through the U.S. Department of
Education and is available if your field of study leads to
an academic, professional, or vocational degree or
certificate (or other recognized educational credential) at
an eligible institution. An eligible institution must have
accreditation from an accrediting body recognized by the
U.S. Department of Education to be able to participate in
federal student aid programs. Federal student aid helps with
tuition and fees, room and board, and books and supplies. It
can also aid in transportation expenses, purchasing a
computer, and even dependent child care expenses.
WHO MAY APPLY?
You must either have a high school diploma or a General
Education Development (GED) Certificate, or have completed high
school education in a home school setting approved under
Maryland law. Also, you must be enrolled or accepted as a
regular student for the purposes of obtaining a degree, a
certificate, or other legitimate educational credentials.
students should apply for need-based financial aid. Many
families mistakenly think they may not qualify for this type of
aid based on their income and assets. However, if you choose not
to apply for need-based financial aid, you may be closing the
door on opportunities that could help you pay for college. There
are other sources of financial assistance available regardless
of your need, but most require you first to file the Free
Application for Federal Student Aid.
HOW TO APPLY
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the
primary application form for federal need-based aid and other
types of federal student aid. It is highly recommended that you file an
electronic FAFSA online at
www.fafsa.ed.gov. Online FAFSA applications are processed
quicker and more accurately than paper FAFSAs. A paper FAFSA can
be obtained by calling 1-800-433-3243).
NOTE: The FAFSA is a
federal application form, however, the State of Maryland, as
well as Maryland institutions, use information filed on the
FAFSA in determining a student’s financial need. Please file
your FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1 to ensure you
comply with all the State and institutional deadlines for
need-based financial aid. The State of Maryland deadline for
filing the FAFSA is March 1.
To apply online for federal student
aid, both you, and your parents if you are a dependent, must get
a PIN (personal identification number). A PIN allows you to sign
an online FAFSA. It also allows you to make corrections to your
online application if necessary. To learn more about PIN’s, please visit
this numbers as you will need it to update your FAFSA in the
you start to fill out your FAFSA, gather the documents you will
need to complete the application, such as income tax returns,
W-2 forms, and any other records of income. You will also need
your social security number, driver’s license, and most recent
bank statements. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you will need
your alien registration number or permanent residence card. For
a complete list of documents needed, go to
Remember to list a
Maryland college and the college's Federal Title IV
Institution Code to be considered for
Maryland State financial aid. Title IV codes for Maryland institutions are
listed by the institutional description in the front of the
Student Guide to Higher Education and Financial Aid in Maryland
or at the U.S. Department of Education’s website,
If you use an APO or a Post Office Box in your address, the Office of Student
Financial Assistance will ask you to provide your actual
Maryland street address.
If you filed a FAFSA last year,
you will probably file a 2009-2010 Renewal FAFSA this year. Your
Renewal FAFSA will only be available for you to submit
electronically via the web. You will be sent a reminder to file
your Renewal FAFSA via the web. The reminder will be sent to you
either via email or at your home address. If you do not receive
a Renewal FAFSA reminder by January 1,you go online and
file a regular FAFSA form.
Many colleges may require that you
complete one or more supplemental application forms to apply for
institutional financial aid. Ask the colleges you plan to attend
for information about any additional applications you may need
to complete as well as their deadline for FAFSA submission,
which may be earlier than that of the State. That way, you will
make sure you are considered for all types of college financial
WHEN TO APPLY
Complete and submit the FAFSA between January 1, 2009 and June
30, 2010. Do not sign, date, or mail your FAFSA before January
1,2009. Your eligibility is determined one award year at a time.
The results from your 2009-2010 application are good only for
the 2009-2010 academic year. Because your financial circumstances
can change from one year to the next, you must complete the FAFSA
each year. The State of Maryland requires that the FAFSA be
filed by March 1, 2009 in order to receive any State need-based
financial assistance for the2009-2010 academic year. You should apply as soon as possible after
January 1, 2009.
If you are filing a paper FAFSA, make sure you fill
out, stamp, and mail the postcard that comes with your FAFSA so
you will be notified when it has reached the federal processor.
To prove that you mailed the FAFSA, you should get a Certificate
of Mailing from the post office when you mail your form.
FAFSAs that are filed after the March 1 deadline will be
considered for fewer types of State need-based aid programs. If
you or your parents do not have your federal tax returns
completed before the March 1 deadline, you should carefully
estimate your answers on the FAFSA and correct them later.
Services of Consultant to Help Find
Scholarships or to Help Me Complete the FAFSA
The Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA) urges you to
look carefully at these services. Make sure you are not paying
for something that is available for free from your high school
guidance office, the public library, a college financial aid
office, the web or from OSFA. If the consultant guarantees that
you will receive some sort of financial aid, learn as much as
you can about the consultant, the company, and the students who
have used the service before you spend the $50 to $1,000 that
some consultants may charge.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER I APPLY
The federal processing center will check your FAFSA for proper
signatures, correct social security number, etc. It is important
not to leave blank items on your FAFSA as incomplete
applications will delay the application process and prevent you
from being considered for financial aid. After your FAFSA has been processed, you will receive a report containing
your answers to the FAFSA questions. This is called the Student
Aid Report (SAR) and will be received either via email, if you
applied electronically, or regular mail if you filed a paper
FAFSA. Review your SAR carefully. If you find a mistake
you will need to make changes or you need to make updates
because you may have estimated when you first completed the
FAFSA you should do so and resubmit the form. Keep a copy
of the corrected SAR in your files and send one copy by April 1
Your SAR will indicate how much the federal
government expects your family to contribute toward your college
costs. Financial aid officers refer to this as your
Expected Family Contribution or EFC. Your EFC is used to
determine the amount of federal and State financial aid you
maybe be eligible to receive.
A U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen who is enrolled or
accepted as a regular student working toward a degree or
certificate in an eligible program is eligible to apply for
federal and State aid. To learn more about eligible majors,
please call 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243).
TYPES OF FEDERAL ASSISTANCE
The U.S. Department of Education is the largest
source of financial aid and offers nine (9) different types
of assistance. The following pages describe the Pell Grant,
Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, Academic
Competitiveness Grant, National Smart Grant, TEACH Grant, Federal Work-Study,
Perkins Loans, Stafford Loans, and PLUS Loans. Each type of
assistance has specific criteria, so please read carefully.
Please contact your financial aid office if you have any
questions about federal assistance.