Filling out the U.S. Department of Education’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step for most students seeking financial support for college. But the form can be complicated and intimidating, particularly for students. Many fill out the form themselves and have questions that are not easily answered.
The Center for New York City Affairs has released the 2019-2020 edition of our popular guide for high school students who are applying to college and beginning their all-important quest for financial aid: Understanding FAFSA: The How-To Guide for High School Students (And the Adults Who Help Them).
The guide is particularly useful for first-generation, immigrant and low-income students. Many are filling it out for the first time. We also recommend the guide for guidance counselors and teachers.
The How-To Guide was written in partnership with New York City guidance counselors and financial aid professionals in an effort to answer many of the questions students have.
• What is the FAFSA form and what documents will I need?
• What kinds of questions can I expect and how does the process work?
• What if I am not a U.S. citizen?
• What if my family is not a traditional family?
• How do I report and calculate my family’s income?
• What happens after I file the FAFSA?
• How do I compare college financial aid offers?
• What happens next year when I am in college?
The guide is available in 10 languages and the New York City Department of Education will be giving a copy to every public school senior.
A previous version of this story ran in October 2017. It has been updated with new information for November 2019.