Financial Aid FAQs

What is the basic process of applying for federal financial aid?

To apply for federal student aid, such as federal grants, work-study, and loans, you need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  
  • Step 1: Begin your FAFSA process by creating a Federal Student Aid account (FSA ID) at This will be your personal account for submitting the FAFSA when you're ready. Your FSA ID will give you access to the federal aid online systems and can serve as your legal signature.
  • Step 2: Use your FSA ID to file the FAFSA at  Federal student aid applications can be submitted starting October 1, so submit your FAFSA as soon as possible.  Federal financial aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, so apply as early as you can to maximize your financial aid.
  • Step 3: Once your FAFSA is processed, you will receive a Student Aid Report.  Review this report to make sure there are no errors on your FAFSA. 

Do I have to file the FAFSA each year I am in school?

Yes.  The FAFSA addresses many different factors when determining your eligibility for student aid and those factors may change slightly from year to year.  You should file a FAFSA for every year that you plan to attend college in order to be considered for financial aid.

What information will I need in order to fill out the 2023-2024 FAFSA?

  • Your Social Security Number (or Alien Registration Number if you are not a U.S. citizen)
  • Your 2021 federal income tax returns, W-2s, and other records of money earned. (Note: You may be able to transfer your federal tax return information into your FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.)
  • Bank statements and records of investments (if applicable)
  • Records of untaxed income (if applicable)
  • An FSA ID to sign electronically.
  • If you are a dependent student, then you will also need most of the above information for your parent(s).

I have a unique family situation that doesnt fit the mold, how do I answer questions on the FAFSA? 

Here are some links to great resources about many different types of unique student situations:

What are some common mistakes to avoid when filling out the FAFSA?

Do I have to be admitted to a college before I file the FAFSA?

No, you can file a FAFSA for the next school year beginning October 1, even if you havent applied to any colleges yet. However, many schools require that you be admitted to their institution before they will tell you how much financial aid you may receive at that school. 

In order for your FAFSA information to be received by the schools you are interested in, you will have to list them on your FAFSA. If you did not designate a school on your FAFSA but would like them to receive your information, contact the school.  They will request your Data Release Number (DRN), a four-digit number located in the upper right-hand corner of the front page of your Student Aid Report. This allows the school to request your FAFSA information be sent to them.

I successfully filed the FAFSA, now what?

If you submitted your FAFSA online, it usually takes up to 5 days to process.  If you sent in a paper FAFSA, please allow up to 4 weeks to process.

Once your application is processed, you will receive a copy of your Student Aid Report (SAR), which summarizes the information you provided on your FAFSA. Review your SAR and make sure all the information is complete and accurate.  If there is any missing or incorrect information, then you should complete or correct your FAFSA as soon as possible.

Your SAR will include your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC determines your eligibility for a Federal Pell Grant, and colleges use the EFC to assess your eligibility for other federal and nonfederal student aid.

The colleges you listed on the FAFSA will receive a copy of your SAR.  They use this information to create your award package and disburse your financial aid. You should contact the financial aid office at the college you plan to attend to find out if there are additional requirements for receiving financial aid and to learn more about the process of applying for aid at that college.

My Student Aid Report (SAR) says I am eligible to receive the Pell Grant, does that mean I will get aid?

Your SAR states that you may be eligible to receive a Federal Pell Grant. It further states that the Financial Aid Administrator at your school will determine whether you meet all eligibility requirements to receive aid. The actual amount of aid will depend on the cost of attendance at your school, your enrollment status, congressional budget restrictions, and other factors.

To be eligible you must:
  • Be a citizen or eligible non-citizen of the United States with a valid social security number (please note that DACA [Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals] are not considered U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens at this time and are not eligible for federal aid, even though  they have a valid social security number);
  • Have a high school diploma or General Education Development (GED) Certificate or pass an approved ability to benefit test;
  • Register (or have registered) for Selective Service if you are a male age of 18 to 25;
  • Attend a school that participates in the program;
  • Be working toward a degree or certificate that is eligible for federal financial aid;
  • Be making satisfactory academic progress toward that degree or certificate;
  • Not owe a refund on a Federal Pell Grant or be in default on a federal educational loan;
  • Have financial need as determined in part by the data on the FAFSA.

How can I apply for state financial aid?

The Kansas Board of Regents administers the scholarships and grants for the state of Kansas.  Although each scholarship has its own specific eligibility criteria, to be eligible for any Kansas funding you must be a permanent Kansas resident and be attending a college or university in Kansas.  

For more information on Kansas scholarships and grant programs, please refer to the Kansas Board of Regents website:

Please note: Student loans are not issued at the state-level; loans are funded at the federal level by the U.S. Department of Education.  You must file a FAFSA in order to be considered for federal student loans.

How do I know if a scholarship I found online is a scam or not?

Here are some rules of thumb to follow when searching for scholarships:
  • If you must pay money to get money, it might be a scam.  You should never invest more than the cost of a postage stamp to get information about scholarships.  Most legitimate scholarship foundations do not charge application fees.
  • Nobody can guarantee that you'll win a scholarship, so if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • If you're suspicious of an offer, it's usually with good reason.
Before spending the money, check with others to see if anyone has had any experience with this company.  Check with the Kansas Attorney Generals office or the Federal Trade Commission.  Be absolutely certain before you spend the money.

What are some reputable sources of scholarships out there?

Many colleges offer academic scholarships or other types of aid.  Check the financial aid webpage for your college to learn more about the programs at your school.  In addition, many community organizations offer different types of awards for students in their community.

The following links are general search engines for many types of scholarships:

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