Navigating Financial Aid and Tuition Assistance: What is FAFSA?

by NU Online on 9/21/15 11:30 AM

whatisfafsaWhat is FAFSA? This is a great question and often confusing for students. Let’s walk you through the process.


The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is required by the Department of Education in order for a student to be considered for federal aid (both need based and non-need based). By completing and submitting the FAFSA, you are given access to the largest source of financial aid to pay for college.

Phew, that’s the quick definition of the FAFSA. Now I’ll dive deeper into the nooks and crannies of FAFSA and its importance to you as you look to complete your bachelor’s or master’s degree.

How is “Financial Need” determined?

Financial need is determined by subtracting your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), as determined from the financial information you provide in your FAFSA, from the cost of attendance (COA) at the schools you list on your application. The COA includes the tuition and fees for the academic year as well as an allocation to cover cost of living expenses while enrolled.

Why is it important to file your FAFSA ASAP?

Did you know that practically everyone is able to receive some sort of aid? To find out what you are eligible to receive, you must complete the form online at While you can apply for financial aid at any point in the admissions process, we encourage you to apply early to ensure all paperwork is complete before class starts if you are accepted into the program. When completing the form, you will need the school code for any institution you may attend. Ask your enrollment advisor about Norwich’s school code.

Remember, you have to fill out the FAFSA every year you’re in school in order to stay eligible for federal student aid.

The Federal Student Aid website has created this short video about FAFSA’s benefits to you.

What do I need to fill out the FAFSA?

  • Obtain an FSA ID – this is a username and password combination that allows you to sign your FAFSA electronically. You can get your FSA ID as you fill out the FAFSA or get it ahead of time. Here’s how to get an FSA ID.
  • Your Social Security number
  • Your driver’s license number if you have one
  • Your Alien Registration number if you are not a U.S. citizen
  • Federal tax information or tax returns for you (and your spouse if you are married)
  • Records of your untaxed income
  • Information on cash; savings and checking account balances; investments, etc.

Note: if you are dependent student, FAFSA will need the above information for both you and your parents.

What happens next?

Once your FAFSA information is approved, each school you listed on the application will offer you student loan funds based on your eligibility. Before loan funds can be dispersed, you must be officially accepted into a school’s degree program. At which point, you will be asked to complete a master promissory note, entrance counseling, and an institutional application form to finalize the loan process.

Norwich University Online
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Norwich University Online offers several master’s degrees and bachelor’s degree completion programs as well as certificate and enrichment programs. Designed to accommodate students’ varied work schedules and lifestyles, our programs are delivered through a virtual and highly interactive learning platform that connects Norwich’s exceptional faculty and curricula to students across the country and around the world.

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