How to complete the FAFSA for graduate school
If you’re wondering how to fill out the FAFSA for graduate school, we’ve got good news for you. The form you’ll fill out is the same as the form you filled out for undergrad. But even though the process is similar, you’ll be applying for different opportunities. Here’s everything you need to know as you complete the FAFSA for graduate school. We’ll refresh you on the submission process and describe what your FAFSA can qualify you for. We’ll also discuss how your financial situation may have changed since undergrad.
How to complete the FAFSA
To complete the FAFSA, you’ll start off by creating a FSA ID at www.fsaid.ed.gov. Next, use your FSA ID to log into www.studentaid.gov. Make sure you have your Social Security number, driver’s license number, and latest tax returns handy. The process typically takes about an hour. For a step-by-step guide to filling out the FAFSA, check out our article: How to complete this year’s FAFSA.
What are the main differences between undergraduate and graduate FAFSA?
The undergraduate FAFSA and graduate FAFSA are composed of the same form, but there are some differences. Typically, students applying to graduate school will be considered financially independent. This means that they won’t have to report their parents’ income and assets. This can change your EFC, or Expected Family Contribution.
Additionally, graduate students are ineligible for the federal financial aid offered to undergraduate students. Opportunities such as the Pell Grant and federal subsidized loans are not offered to graduate students. However, the FAFSA is still used to determine institutional aid, and it qualifies you for other federal loans. These include the direct unsubsidized loan and the federal grad PLUS loan.
Also read: Navigating different types of student loans
Are all graduate students eligible for the FAFSA?
All graduate students are eligible to fill out the FAFSA as long as they meet the federal requirements. Your degree program must also be eligible to receive federal aid, but the vast majority of traditional graduate schools are. There is no age limit for filling out the FAFSA.
Federal aid will phase out as the student’s income increases, but it’s worth applying regardless of your income. The process for deciding who is eligible is complex. So, you’ll never know if you qualify unless you submit your form.
What types of financial aid are available through the FAFSA for graduate students?
Graduate students can qualify for two types of federal loans directly through the FAFSA. These are the direct unsubsidized loan and the federal grad PLUS loan. These loans are not as favorable as some federal undergraduate loans, but they typically beat private loans.
If you need to take out loans, direct unsubsidized loans are typically the better of the two. They have lower interest rates than grad PLUS loans, but students are limited in how much they can take out. Graduate students can only take out $20,500 per year of direct unsubsidized loans. If you need to borrow more, you’ll have to utilize grad PLUS loans or private loans.
If you are interested in a career in teaching, the FAFSA can also qualify you for the TEACH Grant. This program can contribute up to $4,000 per year to your education. However, recipients must fulfill a teaching requirement after graduation.
School also use the FAFSA to determine institutional aid. This means that the schools you apply to will look at your FAFSA to determine how much aid to offer. So, even if you aren’t interested in taking out federal loans, it’s a good idea to fill out the FAFSA to find out if your school may offer you financial aid.
See also: How much student loan debt is too much?
When will I hear back about my application?
You should receive your FAFSA results from the government within 3-5 days if you submit online. If you submit your application on paper, it could be 1-3 weeks.