Paying for College

Fast FAFSA Facts

The New Year brings some critical deadlines for new and current college students' financial aid needs. The most familiar and perhaps most ubiquitous aid issue is the FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

If you're going to be a college rookie this year (that is, you're a high school senior right now), you'll want to get familiar with the FAFSA information site. Beyond that, you'll need to seek other information resources and options that can help you with the aid application process. Here's some information about one such resource that could prove to be helpful:

Applying for student aid can feel overwhelming and complicated. The first deadlines for submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) – the first step to getting students the aid they need for school – are right around the corner. Properly filling out the FAFSA can not only help students plan financially for coming school years costs, but can also make sure they're at the front of the line for some first-come-first serve student aid.

At Sallie Mae we're raising awareness and providing the resources families need during our “FAFSA February" campaign.

As part of FAFSA February, Sallie Mae is:

  • Launching a new website, with resources to help families;
  • Launching a $10,000 sweepstakes to award money for college to students who sign up at to learn more about the information they need to complete the FAFSA;
  • Hosting a free on-line chat with financial aid experts on February 11 for anyone who has questions about the form.

With federal financial aid application deadlines looming for more than 18 million college-bound students, Sallie Mae announces “FAFSA February," a public service initiative to help demystify the often confusing and universally dreaded ritual of completing the FAFSA.

Families can access new, free online tools to help them hit the submit button on the all-important aid application. They can also chat with a FAFSA expert and enter a drawing to win a total of $10,000 in college savings.

In three brief how-to videos, available through Sallie Mae's FAFSA February Resource Center at, college-bound students and parents can learn what documents they need to complete the aid form, get answers to the most commonly asked questions, and explore next steps in the financial aid process. Families may also download free FAFSA tips to guide them through the process.

“A common misconception about financial aid is that only certain students qualify," said Barbara O'Brien, Sallie Mae's director of high school outreach, who conducts financial aid workshops for families. “In reality, virtually every U.S. citizen attending an accredited college is eligible for some kind of financial aid—a grant or a low-cost student loan—you just have to apply for it."

Experts will also answer frequently asked questions about the FAFSA on Thursday night, Feb. 11, from 9 to 10 p.m. EST. To pose a question in advance or join the live chat, visit

To help spread the word about the importance of completing this financial aid application and the availability of financial aid, Sallie Mae is conducting the FAFSA College Savings $10,000 Giveaway. Eligible college-bound students, or parents on the student's behalf, visiting the FAFSA February Resource Center may enter to win the drawing.* The Gold medalist will win $6,000, Silver will win $3,000, and Bronze will win $1,000 in money for college. Prizes will be deposited into the winner's Upromise rewards account, where winners can continue to earn cash rewards for college.

Sallie Mae's FAFSA February Resource Center is available free to anyone at

According to a national study from Sallie Mae and Gallup, How America Pays for College,

24 percent of families did not complete the FAFSA last academic year. Half said they did not complete the form because they were not aware or did not think they would qualify for aid.

Sallie Mae recommends students follow the “1-2-3 approach" to paying for college: first, use free money by filling out the FAFSA to access need-based grants and research and apply for scholarships, supplemented with current income and savings. Second, explore federal loans. Third, fill any gap by using a pay-interest-as-you-go private education loan. For example, Sallie Mae's Smart Option Student Loan helps ensure that what a student originally borrowed is all he owes at graduation.

So, you can see that there is lots of help out there for you. Don't procrastinate about your FAFSA requirements. After all, what could be more important right now than finding ways to pay for college?


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