How much federal student aid can you receive?

If you are wondering, “What is the maximum amount of money that FAFSA gives to students?” then finding the answer is a top priority for your financial future.

Without a doubt, higher education can be expensive, with the costs of tuition, textbooks and even food rising year after year. Because of this difficult economy, getting the right help in paying for your schooling has become more important than ever. While some students can get help from family or work multiple jobs, they can sometimes run out of options. This is where federal financial aid might be able to help.

Learning your FAFSA amount is a critical step in the federal financial aid process, as it can inform you what you will need to expect before your schooling even begins. FAFSA is an acronym for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which is a program created by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) in order to provide financial aid to students across the country who need it. However, they give different amounts to different students each year, so it is important to know how much you may be able to expect. This article will inform you of your possible financial aid, and all of the best resources that you can use to make sure that you are prepared for that amount of help.

Why is there a limit to the FAFSA amount that I can get?

To answer the question, “How much does FAFSA give to students?” you will first need to understand the basic premise of education-based financial aid. There are a number of different ways that you can go about getting financial aid for your education, each with different application methods and aid limits. The easiest method of getting financial aid for your schooling is to go to a bank and take out a loan. However, this method will often not give you a very good interest rate, and will usually expect you to pay off your loan in full before you are physically able to shortly after graduation. While it requires more work to achieve, going with federal aid is more reliable, and will often get you a better deal.

But your FAFSA award amount cannot be unlimited, and will usually not even cover the majority of your overall college costs. This is primarily because of other factors in your life that will impact your college costs that are outlined below, as well as more obvious figures like your household income and tuition at the college of your choice. In general, the less loans that you need to take out to cover your higher education costs, the better off you will be after graduation. Therefore, prioritizing financial aid that you will not need to repay at some point is the best strategy.

Need-based & Non-need-based Financial Aid Amount Calculations

When calculating financial aid amounts for your college or university costs, it is also helpful to know about the different categories of aid that you can get from FAFSA. Assuming you qualify for FAFSA, you can get many different types of loans, grants and work-study programs through the federal government, which will vary in award amounts based on your level of need. Specifically, you can get some kinds of need-based financial aid, which is based on your family’s income, and then other kinds of non-need-based aid for whatever else you qualify for that is not impacted by your financial need. Some need-based FAFSA awards can include:

  • Perkins Loans, which are available to college students with a very high level of financial need for aid, and are only available at certain schools.
  • Direct Subsidized Loans, which are provided by the government and do not accrue interest until six months after your graduation.
  • Pell Grants, which are given as financial tuition gifts to qualified student candidates who can express their financial need.
  • Federal Work-study Programs, which are part-time jobs that students can work through their college or a government-linked agency, in order to make money that can go towards their tuition.

In contrast, non-need-based awards might include special education grants for students who are in school to become teachers, as well as Direct Unsubsidized Loans, which are federal loans that the student will have to pay interest on while they are in school.

The Top FAFSA Award Amount Factors

Using a FAFSA estimator to understand what financial aid you will get is sometimes an imprecise science, but it is heavily based on your specific factors that the ED will be looking at. Your award amount will be based on:

  • Your household income. The more money you and your parents make each year, the less you may be able to get in federal aid.
  • Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). In a similar vein, this equates to the minimum amount of money that your family is expected to contribute to your college costs. The more that they are expected to contribute based on their assets and income, the less you can get in loans.
  • Other features, such as scholarships. If you are getting scholarships or other forms of tuition help, you will be able to qualify for slightly fewer loans and grants.

Related Article: Receiving Your Federal Student Aid

Of course, each university has different FAFSA figures, which means that you may be able to get more financial aid at one university than you can at another. Other factors may play into these figures as well, including your dependency status, what year of college you are currently in, how much aid you have received in the past and more.

How to Use a FAFSA Calculator

Utilizing a FAFSA calculator is an excellent idea for those who would like to learn more about how much they can expect to get out of this financial aid program. This is especially useful for prospective college students who would like to see if they can afford higher education, or those who simply wish to plan out their loans and other aspects of their financial future.

These calculators can be found online, and involve looking ahead at your college career and beyond by aggregating a number of different financial aid qualifications that you must meet. Some information that a FAFSA forecaster might ask for includes:

  • Your annual household income, and number of people that contribute to it.
  • The amount of money that you have in non-retirement bank accounts.
  • The state that you live in, and the cost of the school that you will be attending.

By planning ahead for your own education-based financial aid needs, you can determine which loans, grants and other forms of aid are worth your time and resources. Higher education can be expensive, but FAFSA has allowed for thousands of eligible students to get the education that they need for a lower cost than they would otherwise find.

Related Article: FAFSA Information for Parents

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