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How to apply for FAFSA as a single mother

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Every college student dreads having to pay expensive tuition and school fees. For most single mothers, though, the only option is to ask the federal government for money to attend college. The first step to get financial aid is to fill out a FAFSA, short for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Learn how the government helps single mothers who are attending school and why you should apply for financial aid.

What is FAFSA?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is the form that undergraduate and graduate students send to receive federal aid. Federal loans are offered by the government, and private loans are offered by banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions. The interest rates for private loans are usually higher, and the loan terms are more restrictive. To avoid paying more than necessary, single mothers are encouraged to apply for federal loans first and borrow private loans as the last resort.

As a college student, you are qualified to receive financial aid as a U.S. citizen with a high school diploma or the equivalency. After the award is given, maintain your eligibility status by staying enrolled at least half time and maintaining satisfactory grades.

How it works

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The federal government sets aside money for single mothers enrolled in postsecondary schools. Fill out a FAFSA before the deadline and wait several weeks for processing. After your application is processed, receive an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) that determines if and how much aid you get. You may qualify to receive grants, low-interest loans and/or aid provided by the school, state or federal government.

For each academic year, you are required to reapply for FAFSA. The application deadline is set at least six months before the semester starts.

How to apply

Visit the official website for FAFSA and start the online application process. Choose the right application for the upcoming 2017-18 school year. Alternatively, download a paper or PDF form of the application, fill it out and mail or fax it to the federal student aid office. Call 1-877-433-7827 to order a copy.

Your age and academic performance are not the main factors that determine your eligibility. The government determines the amount of assistance based on your level of financial need. You must show proof of your individual and family incomes from the previous year’s tax returns.

The filing deadlines, usually in February or March, vary for each financial aid program. Fill out the FAFSA as soon as possible or soon after the application becomes available. For the 2017-18 year, the application became available in October 2016. Visit the website link for more information.

For college students, many different grants and Work-Study programs are provided by the government. Some scholarship programs require that you become eligible for grants first. The most effective way to grab hold of these opportunities is to submit the FAFSA on time. Like many single mothers, you may be working and still not have enough to pay for school on your own. Filling out this form takes less than an hour and gives you the chance to receive the school funds you deserve.

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