Entering postgraduate studies is an achievement worth celebrating. After the initial emotions, however, you need to plan how to prepare and pay for studies. Can graduate students apply for FAFSA?
What is FAFSA?
FAFSA was created by the Department of Education (DOE) to collect financial information about students and their families to determine who is eligible for federal assistance. This information will not only help DOE decide who is eligible, but what types of support are eligible.
Types of federal assistance include many sources of subsidies, loans and work study programs.
Some types of financial assistance – subsidized loans – are reserved for students with certain financial needs. Still, all students should complete the FAFSA form to see what they will qualify for.
Here is something important for all students to understand: The federal government is not the only entity that uses the information provided by potential students at FAFSA. Many states and some colleges also use FAFSA information to determine who receives their help; states and universities often have their own support programs that are separate from federal support.
Bachelor vs. Graduate
When submitting your FAFSA, you are considered a graduate or professional student if you enrolled in any post-secondary school beyond a bachelor’s degree, such as a master’s degree, medical degree or doctoral degree, such as a doctorate. (A professional degree usually refers to preparation for a specific career, such as a legal or pharmaceutical degree).
This distinction is crucial because graduates and students almost always receive an independent status at FAFSA (while undergraduate students are mostly categorized as dependent).
What is the difference between FAFSA for grad students
The main difference for undergraduate and graduate students at FAFSA is that most undergraduate students are classified as tax-dependent parents, while graduates are considered independent.
FAFSA considers dependency status. If the student is dependent, he / she appends the financial information of their parents. If they are independent, parents’ financial information is not taken into account.
For an independent student, only the financial information of the future student (and their spouse, if applicable), including their income, assets and liabilities, are taken into account.
After submitting all the relevant documentation required for FAFSA, students often understand that they want to learn about their federal funding options. According to the US Department of Education, digital applications are usually processed within three to five days, while paper-based applications usually require seven to 10 days. When the application goes through the processing phase, the student receives a Student Assistance Report (SAR) summarizing all the details provided in the application. Students should review their SAR carefully as this gives the last opportunity to make changes or correct errors before their applications receive a formal assessment. If any errors occur, students should return to the FAFSA website, make corrections, and resubmit their application.
In addition to the information entered by the student, SAR also provides the expected family contribution (EFC). In addition to helping students with financial assistance in determining how much money a student can receive under federal assistance, colleges and universities use this number to develop individual funding offers.