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Student Loans

Please, respond to some or all of the following questions.

  1. How many student loan applications did you submit?
  2. What type of student loan did you receive?
  3. Any tips for your fellow college pals?


pistolpete1986's picture

Regarding Loan Application

Well, it is one of the most critical issues for a student, who has not received a scholarship or a financial aid. I happened to go and talk to the bank manager ( State Bank of India) regarding the interest rates and the period within which the entire money has to be returned back.

The information I received made me realize that taking an educational loan turns out to be expensive, many of the bank employees suggest that students have to ask their parents to take a personal loan on various grounds. This would lead to the longer payback period with low interest rates. Ultimately, this is what I have done to reduce the financial burden for my higher studies.

Every bank has its own rules and regulations, because of which it is worthwhile to consult a bank employee or bank manager, whom you know personally. They can be very useful in giving you valuable suggestions on what would lead to a very favorable situation for a person to take a loan.

rachelsholiday's picture

Loans in the U.S.

One thing that I really appreciate in the U.S. is Federal Direct Loaning.  It definitely makes getting loans for school a lot easier.

That said, sometimes having an easy time taking out loan is not always a good thing; especially for people in their teens and early 20’s.  Having been in school over the last 5 ½ years, here are a few things that I've picked up.

First, be careful about how much you’re taking out.  If you possibly can, only take out enough for your tuition (and books if you need to.)  A part-time job can go a long way, in reducing the amount of loans you will need to survive.

Second, try to start paying back your loans BEFORE you graduate.  Over the last few months, I've been paying them down (slowly, oh so slowly) at $20 a month.  It’s fairly easy for me to come up with that amount of money, and I’m making a dent in my loans before they all start accruing interest (I have some unsubsidized loans.)  Doing that is going to help you so much in the long run!

Last, try to plan ahead.  This kind of ties in to the first thing, but if you know you need to take summer classes and you know you need a loan for them, try to save enough of your loans to pay for them.  I don’t qualify to take out loans especially for the summer semester, but I do have access to my loan amount from the Spring semester.  That means that I’ll set aside enough so that when it comes time to pay for summer courses, I haven’t squandered my loan money.

Tomochka's picture

hate being in debt, but just no other choice...

I am one of these non-traditional adult students, and  I had to start over as a freshman, regardless of my previous school experience.  By the results of my admission tests and GPA, I should have gotten at least one scholarship that would have covered my expenses, but that did not happen.  Instead, I was forced to take out a loan. 

Oh, how I am grateful to subsidized federal loans!  So, now, I can focus on my school. I do have concerns about my future, as of “what am I going to do if I don’t get a job within six months after graduation?”, but I tend to look at things optimistically, so I think everything will turn out just fine.  I expect some tax money coming back to me next year, and I will pay off at least some part of my loan then. 

Unfortunately, I don’t have enough funds to start making payments now, but I am going to start in February.  I think it is a good idea not to wait until the end to start bothering with pay-backs.  I also hope that the government does not make any more education cuts, for many people like myself would just have to quit school altogether… I am grateful for the ability to take out low-interest loans, and I would like to keep it that way.

However, if someone out there has a choice not to borrow – DO NOT. Make sure, you have investigated all possibilities of getting some other kind of aid (scholarships, grants, etc.).

PYETwentyTwelve's picture

Hi Tomochka

I can relate to your post about loans, and you're right if you can avoid at all cost,s please don't take any of them out to begin with.  Of course, thankful that option is available, if need to borrow funds to attend/finish up school. 

Many people heading back to college are on a fixed incomes or living paycheck to paycheck.  There is no reason a person can't go to college, and according to news reports the government has ALL this money to give out to those, that need it for an education, but it is so darn hard to get to it and find out where to start on getting this money.

Focusing on school is priority, and when you have the necessary monies available to access it makes things a little bit better, and you're able to focus on your studies to complete without having so many financial worries.

In my case, it helps that my employer will pay for classes I take (providing I pass with an "A" or a "B,") so there is pressure in this case to perform well, as not to bear the burden of paying for a class at the end of any semester.  Free money is ideal, but like you stated not always a choice for many, so research all you can and even let people know you're looking for school money, they may surprise you with what is out there.


Kasmdan's picture


How many student loan applications did you submit?
  • Personally, I took out several loans. I actually took out as much as I could, because I took advantage of the system! :) With my major, and the type of loans that I took out, I didn't have to pay them back, thanks to a clause in the "forgiveness" part. If you are majoring in Education and a few other majors, you can ask forgiveness on your loan, so you don't have to pay any of them back. So, I used all my excess to pay for my car/gas/supplies/etc.
What type of student loan did you receive?
  • Mainly, through the Government, subsidized type loans.
Any tips for your fellow college pals?
  • READ THE FINE PRINT. What you DON'T want, especially if you don't want to get a job while in school, is to pay for the loans while you are still in college. AND read the APR. My ex-girlfriend was.. not very smart and signed a 9.87% APR loan, which will equal about an extra 20K she'll have to pay back at the very end of her graduation... Ouch. Good thing I'm not dating her anymore, right? :P
Clare Regina's picture

I submitted a FAFSA every

I submitted a FAFSA every year during my undergrad and graduate school. I was fortunate to have a scholarship and a few grants during my undergrad. The rest was covered by federal subsidized loans. During graduate school, I learned just how valuable those scholarships and grants were. In one year, I racked up the same amount of debt in federal loans that I had in four years at my previous schools!

My student loan tips include the following:

Pay your refund checks back into your loans as soon as possible. As a student, I was required to take out a specific loan amount. Any money that could not be applied to my bill was given back to me as a check. Sometimes I spent the money on books and computer equipment. During my student teaching days, when I had a placement almost two hours from where I lived, and gas was almost five dollars a gallon, I spent the refund on gas. Then again, because I was young, sometimes I just spent the money on frivolous things. I wish I had just put the money right back into the loan if I didn't need it for anything (just like my father told me to, yikes!)

It's also a good idea to be familiar with the different kinds of repayment plans, deferment plans, and loan forgiveness. When my grace period first ended, I was working a part time, minimum wage job, and my regular student loan payments would have been more than a quarter of my total income! I learned about the Income Contingent Repayment (now the Income Based Repayment), which has been a life saver for me in this difficult economy.


java602's picture

Most college students find it

Most college students find it necessary to take out some kind of loan in order to be able to pay the always growing college tuition bills.  College debt in the United States is larger than the credit card debt of the nation.  This is obviously beyond acceptable, but unfortunately, it has always reached the point where it is nearly unavoidable. 

The best kind of loan to take out is a federal loan because the interest rates are typically lower.  Private loans have very high interest rates and they are the main reason that the cumulative college student debt is so high.  Fixed interest loans are also a good choice because interest rates will usually only rise and never decrease. 

You should also always do your own research for student loans, especially if you plan on attending a private university.  Scams have taken place in the past where colleges lure students into taking out student loans with a specific distributor in exchange for a cut of the profits. 

Just as would you with any contractual agreement, make sure that you know exactly what you are getting yourself into before you sign off.  Once you are locked into a loan, you can’t get out.

kevspow's picture

I Was Able To Pay Off My Loans While In College

I took out the full monty of student loans when I first enrolled, Big Mistake. I thought it was a good deal until I looked at how long I was going to have to pay on those darned things. I was working through college, but you know how student life goes...I was always broke. i am lucky, I was able to start a great little business that paid me rather well, and allowed me to pay off the loans I already had taken.  I was able to pay for my school expenses with this business without ever having to take out another loan. I am so happy I did this.

Ashlynn Hall's picture

I did not want to take out loans...

But due to my particular circumstances, I had to figure out a way to pay off the balance on my account for the semester. I was short on money because when I moved to Pennsylvania from California, I was no longer eligible for a CalGrant. By taking the summer semester off, I will be able to work on saving money, and also, by the time I get back to school, I will have been living in Pennsylvania for a year, and will be eligible to a PA grant. I want to try to keep my student debt as low as possible, but I know that I will be able to get a good career after graduation. 

Ashlynn Hall's picture


You know what really sucks? My parents claimed me on their taxes last year. Which means for me, I have to get all of THEIR tax information for my FAFSA for this year's financial aid. I had my mom on the phone while I filled it out. They live in California, and I live in Pennsylvania. Now, I have to have my sister email me transcripts from my parents' tax return. It's going to be a pain, because she's busy with her own problems. I guess it's the price to pay to be able to get  enough money to take courses this year. 

NickRajotte's picture

If you are in the US the

If you are in the US the first thing you need to do if you are looking for financal help is to see if you qualify for the Pell Grant.  This is money that you do not need to pay back to anyone.  

While it is not enough to pay for a full ride at a Prestigious College it will Immensely help a student going to Community College where the cost is drastically lower.  If you dont qualify for that or you want to see if there is any other "free" money check at the state and local level to see if they offer grants for going to school.  Once you have exhuasted that then look into loans, as someone said a few posts above mine,

The US does offer a direct federal loan to students, the only catch with those is the only way to get rid of it is to pay it off.  You can not write it off in a bankruptcy or anything like that.  So you must keep that in mind, this is not free money and you should only apply for what you absolutely need to pay for school and books, and cost of living if necessary.  

I am able to pay most of my schooling through grants and Federal Loans.  and I dont plan on taking anymore than i need for tutuion as i cover the book cost with work money.

ShadaeDillard's picture


How many student loan applications did you submit?

 I took out several loans. I actually took out as much as I could, because I took advantage of the system! :) With my major, and the type of loans that I took out, I didn't have to pay them back, thanks to a clause in the "forgiveness" part. If you are majoring in Human Services,Educations etc,most government jobs and a few other majors, you can ask forgiveness on your loan, so you don't have to pay any of them back. 

What type of student loan did you receive?

Mainly, through the Government, 

Any tips for your fellow college pals?

Make sure you read everything, ask questions because the money can add up and it will add up fast, you don't want to be stuck with 50,000 in student loans do you.

TBanton's picture

Student Loans

When the time came to pay for university, I was fortunate enough to qualify for a scholarship that would cover both tuition and books. But that didn't stop me from accepting a federal direct loan to offset the costs of travel to and from school. The scholarship also meant that I only needed the one loan, because the amount was high enough to cover the entire four and a half month semester without me needing to get a job.

Following that semester, I lost my scholarship and had to apply for another loan. I was able to sit down with a financial aid counselor and he helped to explain that taking smaller loans would be better . The idea of 'free money' is always one of the dangerous traps that young students fall into as they don't look ahead and realize that they will not only have to pay that money back, but actually pay more because of the accruing interest. My second loan was a smaller, private company loan that was only available during the summer semesters and still did not offset the balance completely but I managed.

If I could advise college students, I would say try to get scholarships and grants, because that money does not need to be repaid. And if you do have to get a loan (or two), it's best to be sensible and not take more than you actually need. If your school has a financial aid department, go in and talk to someone before you make the decisions of how much to accept. Most loans offer partial or total acceptance, so it's good if you can budget how much you think you'll need so as to minimize your debts.

JasmineRose's picture

Student Loans

For graduate school I only submitted one loan application. I am receiving an unsubsidized loan to help pay for my twelve months in school. Being that I already have previous loans to pay back from undergraduate studies, I have those loans on an "in-school deferment". I've yet to start paying any of those loans off and hope to be able to start on payment after graduation.

A young girl in a group on Facebook asked is college really worth it with all the loans. My honest response to her was of course! Only because it's hard to find a decent job with a high school diploma and employers' expectations are becoming so drastic these days that a bachelor's degree is like the "new high school diploma". I struggled trying to land a job after graduation with just my B.S. degree and I still do! That's why I'm going back for a second degree. 

I honestly can agree that the government shouldn't charge students so much for education and some accommodations should be granted to us for free. The best advice I can give you is to apply to as many scholarships and grants as you can. It will help you in the long run and won't place you in so much loan debt.

With that said, if you have no choice but to apply to a student loan, only take out the amount that you know you'll definitely be using during the school year. 

KristinaPacione's picture

I'd suggest applying for

I'd suggest applying for FAFSA and TAP, then search your school for other scholarships. If you want a nice tool to put the colleg cost into perspective, this website has a really good tuition calculator: 

hope it helps

UniGeek's picture

I don't even remember how

I don't even remember how many student loan applications I submitted. Obviously if you're going to go to college you have to submit a lot of those applications. Fortunately, I managed to get my out-of-state tuition forgiven, that is, I never had to pay it. Then I got a federal student loan.

Those federal loans really need to be higher, I think we can all agree on that. Definitely though, if you can get a Pell Grant, then for goodness sakes, get one. Pell Grants are just that, grants; you dont' have to pay them back.

It's disappointing that our society really doesn't want to invest more of their money into student education. It really is the backbone of our economy.


Best advice I can give to incoming students who are looking for money. Do what some of my friends did and sign-up for something like fastweb where you can search for all kinds of scholarships in your field. It's possible to have your education completely paid for just on scholarship applications.

The next biggest advice I can give is, try to make some money with a part-time job, to cover in-college expenses. Furthermore have a strong idea of where you want to work when you graduate.

karijunebugg's picture

Student Loans

The first time I went to college I was fresh out of high school. My dad was not good with money, it was always tight. I had no real education or advice on applying for financial aid. I wish I would have been encouraged to apply for scholarships and Pell grants, but I did not even know about these options. So, I filed my FAFSA and borrowed away! I did not even finish two years of college before I decided I did not want to major in what I had chosen. In fact, I ended up moving back home and then met the guy who I am married to now. No regrets there because now I have two amazing children and that is the way my life went.

Those college years were about 10 years ago and I am still paying on those school loans! I am going back to school now, earning my Bachelor of Science in Accounting. I have one year left and this time I am finishing.

I was able to get the Pell grant which has helped a lot, but I am still borrowing the rest because I did not have time to apply for scholarships, although with a year left, I guess I still can and probably should!

Anyway, I was able to defer my school loan payment from my early years while I am back in school. But it will be waiting for me when I finish this time around. I think it's pretty sad that this country doesn't invest more in education for people. Instead, we go to school, thinking we'll make better money, but then find ourselves having to pay back large amounts of tuition for years and sometimes while being unable to find a job in the major we've chosen!

It's a frustrating scenario, financial aid. But there are scholarships, there is free money out there, you have to be willing to search and apply and earn that free money. That's my next goal: see about scholarships to help me through the rest of this year of school.

Good luck to everyone else out there! 

Amandarae1's picture

Read before you sign

My biggest tip for anyone taking out a loan is to really know what you are getting yourself into.  I think you need to make sure you understand and know what you are signing. The other thing is to be ready and know when it comes time to pay them.  If I had paid attention to these things with the first couple of loans I took out I would be having an easier time right now as far as finances go. 

When I first transferred from community college to a four year university is the first time I needed to take out loans.  I found a private loan I took out from a bank with my dad as a co-signer.  I did not carefully read all of the paperwork.  I was totally unaware of any of the pay back schedule.  All I knew was that I would not have to make payments until I was done with school.  I had just assumed that as long I was in full-time college I would not have to make payment.  What I did not realize is that only referred to only my undergrad.  

My goal had always been to go straight through to a Masters with the understanding I would not have to pay on that loan until I was done with that. Needless to say that I was very surprised to get a bill in the mail asking for my $120 a month payment. I have been struggling to make this monthly payment since.

mrsmac2775's picture

Student Loans

In today's education climate, it is almost inevitable that you will have to take out student loans to reach your education goals.  The cost of tuition is climbing at unimaginable rates and most college students have no way to keep up or stay in school without eventually having to turn to loans.

As tempting as it may be, never take out more than you absolutely have to have to cover the cost of tuition and books.  It would be nice to have a few extra hundred dollars but I promise that hundred dollars will cost you thousands by the time you get the loan paid back.

Also, like others have said, read everything before you sign it.  The interest rates, the terms of payment, the estimated payment, all of these things are extremely important.  Do not sign anything until you understand the paperwork fully.  The financial aid officers are versed in the meaning of every line on a master promissory note.  If you don't understand something, ask them to explain it.  If they can't, you definitely don't want to sign that document!

Be smart, never take more than you need, and never sign something you don't read. If you follow these two guidelines, you will be ahead of the game.

mrsmac2775's picture

Financial Aid

Previously I posted about student loans.  This go round I am posting on scholarships.  There are tons of them out there.  However, there is no real guidance from school financial aid counselors as to what is really available and what it takes to apply.  Most school's financial aid packets say that when you fill out your FASFA you will be considered for all available scholarships as well.  I highly doubt the truthfulness of that statement.

I say this because I had financial need.  I qualified for a Pell Grant my entire undergraduate life.  I had the grades.  Yet never, not once, in all of the years I was in school, was a scholarship ever mentioned to me in my financial aid packet, much less awarded to me. 

Now as a graduate student in my third term, still the need exists, yet there are no grants and once again, despite a 4.0 average, the elusive scholarship still remains just that...elusive.  It is the job of the financial aid counselor to advise students or at the very least, point them in the right direction.  Yet they generally only point them to debt - in the form of student loans.

How many of you out there actually got awarded a scholarship from the financial aid office that you didn't go out and directly apply for yourself?  Anyone?

johnk146's picture

To the Natives

When it comes to educational debt, American students find themselves fortunate enough to participate within a progressive system. If your family is moderately to undeniably wealthy, relatively speaking of course, no worries, your parents wiill likely pick up most of the tab.

If you are middle of the road to dirt poor, you'll be walking away oweing, but not as much as you think! The federal government actively participates with most campuses to make sure that it's residents receive as little financial burden as (fiscally) possible.

This is why you should file your FAFSA on time, and as soon as possible, as you could (pretty much passively) qualify for a portion of your educational costs to disappear. POOF, with a cloud of paperwork in it's wake. This issue of timeliness leads me to the most important part about managing your educational finances. MANAGE THEM.

You are wholly and utterly responsible to how much you will end up oweing after the dust settles. Don't take my word for it. Google "scholarships" and see the billions of results that pop up. Even if the federal government won't give you a penny, plenty of other people are more than willing to empty their pockets and line yours!

The more you work at it, the more you will be rewarded. So the solution is simple, work at it,  and witness your beer fund rival Donald Trump's hair care budget. 

Hearty Marial's picture

On Student Loans

I don’t really go for student loans especially when you don’t have any assurance that you could pay it. A friend of mine was not able to graduate because of this.

Before the semester of her graduation, she applied for a student loan for some reasons only she knows. I asked her if she has any reliable guarantor or something to back her up, and she told me that her boyfriend who has work will take good care of her when it comes to that. i just believed in her, I really worried since I know that her boyfriend’s work is about to get lost..

She applied and was able to get the money, but I don’t know what happened next, she was not able to graduate and I asked for her friends why and they said they don’t know why. I tried to call her and we talked and she told me that she was not able to pay the loan, and the interest got higher that she is already having a hard time finding a way to pay for it.

I asked where her boyfriend is and she told me that her boyfriend can’t help since he too has financial problems too. And how’s that? Applying for student loans are really helpful in times of extreme financial needs but relying on it too much will sometimes drag you down. Before going for it, make sure that you are able to pay for it, or else you will suffer the consequence of not being to pay for it.  

cmannine's picture

Graduate school student loans.

I submitted one applcation for all loans through the university and the same loan company took care of it all. You will need to fill out an FAFSA or have your parents do one for you in order to get loans.  You may need a co-signer for the loans.   The most frequent company is Sallie Mae for graduate loans.  They divide the loans up into the separate types for you based on the information they have and the amount you require.

If you are going for graduate degrees be prepared though to spend at least 30K on your graduate loans unless you have other assistance.  I received both a stafford and non stafford loan.  Your best advice even while on in-school deferrment is to try to pay off the interest accrued on your loans while you are attending so it does not build up on top of your balance as well.  The interest is usually only about 30-60 a month and it will save you thousands down the road when you are trying to pay off student loans.  

Try to get other help first before loans such as scholarships and assistantships. The information for that is listed under that category please see there.


cmannine's picture

Several downfalls actually of not paying it.

Yes, I don't see how it stopped her not graduating as the deferrment time to repay them back is usually 6 months after graduation. Perhaps there is something else she did not tell you.  However, after the 6 months you can still request other deferrments such as unemployment, temporary hardship and more.  Just be advised that if she doesn't pay the interest it will still stack up.  Also, if not on deferrment and she doesn't pay they can take her income tax money at the end of the year and even file collections against her. They are the government or private organizations and of course they want their money. That's why I strongly recommended doing scholarships and other means first but this board was about loans and their information.

If I was you, I would tell her to get a deferrment and to talk to her loan company about her situation. They will be able to grant something to help her out temporarily upto a year at first if needed after graduation. You need to keep the communication open between loan companies and yourself during and after schooling to avoid collections and other things from preventing you from acquiring job training and becoming board certified in a field even.


cmannine's picture

Tips on getting assistance when you face financial hardship.

If you haven't all ready read my post previously on the downfalls of student loans you need to do so before you read this one first.  If you find that you are facing hardships paying off your loans after you graduate and the initial six months after they give you to find an occupation.  Then you have come to the right post.  

First, you will want to contact the loan company you have gone through and see if you can change your repayment plan. This option is good for those of you who are working somewhere, even if it is not in your field of choice.  It can lower your monthly payment and you won't go into default on your loans and you will be paying off your loans still and building credit.

If you have more than one loan you can try loan consolidation while the interest rates are still low enough.  This also will reduce your loan payment and it typically involves a second loan company buying out all your loans from every student loan lender you have and putting them together in one account.

Your other options are if you are not working at all or unemployed.  You can contact your loan company and see if you qualify for a deferrment or forbearance.  These come in many forms and some of the companies have it where you can apply for any of the ones that fit your needs online.

So those are your options. Always remember to keep the lines of communication open between your and your loan company. The minute you realize you can't afford that payment or need a break for a period of time upto a year you should call them and speak to them.

footballchick29's picture


I applied for both sub and unsub loans all throughout college. I have received both loans every semester I have been in college. People with undecided majors need to be careful though because there are so many credit hours that are covered under financial aid at each level. I didn't realize this until I received a warning letter from the school one semester that I was close to using up all of my allotted hours. I was very irresponsible with taking out so many loans. I always got large refund chaecks every semester so I considered that free money in a way. I was not worried about interest rates or anything like that. It wasn't until my income tax was taxen to repay overdue loans that I started to care lol. I have also heard horror stories of people going to third party loan providers and getting sucked in to even more debt that way. I was always advised to stay away from those, which I did. My advice is to first get all the grants and scholarships you can before turning to loans. If you need to turn to loans make sure you understand the consequences of borrowing irrationally. Only take out what you need and pay them back asap.

noodles2448's picture

Financial Aid

Some tips on getting financial aid and keeping it!

jbfoster's picture

Student loan stuff can get

Student loan stuff can get really confusing. I think a lot of times people underestimate how helpful the financial aid office can be in sorting out specific questions. My friend was agonizing over loan issues days before she had to submit what loans she was renewing online and begging her dad and everyone in the dorm lounge for help. Talking to somebody who's paid to understan the stuff in the financial aid office is a wiser choice. 

Tim Gogo's picture

None yet, but going to be in a ton of debt.

Thus far, I haven't had to take out any college loans. However, that is changing very soon. My parents covered it for two years and now they are terminating the rest of the education. It is up to me to pay for all of my college education, like many of you and many of my class mates. It's time for me to take up the responsibility and become an adult. There's only a few weeks in order to get a college loan before the summer semester I am in, and times running out.  Since school is over, I will be able to spend a ton of time researching loans. And after speaking to an adviser, I have gained a lot of information from them. 

The first thing that you should do is fill out FASA... Unfortunately, I will not qualify since my parents make too much. - Yeah, sucks I still have to pay... But hey, that's life. Anyway, if you get this, you'll get a state grant.. There's certainly deadlines that you need to complete and what really sucks, is you have to enter personal information and parents information- which I feel is unnecessary for them to know.  Also search everywhere online for scholarships and ask your guidance counselor at your school for them. 

The second thing you should do is look for information online. Google low interest rate loans for college students. You'll get a ton of a results, but look for something that's legit. After you find some, read into it and/or read reviews about it. If you feel you have found your loaners, set up an appointment. If you are under 24 years old, your parents are forced to co-sign with you. If their credits rates are amazing, the interest rate will be reduced. Only take out within your need. Try to go to a school that you satisfy your needs for your job and somewhere that won't cost a lot.

Finally, set up a payment option and examine all the terms/conditions. Most loans you won't have to pay until after you are entirely out of school and have graduated. If not graduated, not until you are done take classes. Even if you have to work in a factory, make money from somewhere to begin paying off your debt and establishing your credit. 

There's a lot you can do with financing college. And one thing is, don't take out a credit card if you can't afford it! They're traps. It's highly recommended you speak to professionals. To be honest, it's not hard understanding college loans. 

paridiso's picture

What is the FAFSA and why do I need to fill it out?

What is the FAFSA and how do you apply for it?  If you are attending college in the US, you will be required to fill out the FAFSA form in order for you college application to be processed.  

FAFSA is a form used to file for federal student aid. The name means Free Application for Federal Student Aid. FAFSA is not an aid program, it is just the name of the form.

One of the outputs of the FAFSA is the Estimated Family Contribution, or EFC.  It is necessary to complete the FAFSA to qualify for Federal aid such as Federal Loans and Grants. It is also required by many colleges to qualify for institutional aid, however some colleges use additional or alternative forms/methods.  

The FAFSA uses household income as the primary basis for EFC, meaning the income of one or two parents and the student.  The FAFSA determines your eligiblity to receive federal aid: including Pell grants, FSEOG grants , Federal Work Study and Federal Student Loans (subsidized/unsubsidized Stafford loans and Perkins loans).

The FAFSA is required by all public colleges and universities and a large number of private schools require the FAFSA (some in addition to other FA forms).  You can find more info on the FAFSA at