Hello! Now that everyone has had thoughts of financial aid for college swirling around their minds, let's get to the heart of the matter: the aid you will receive and how you will get it. As you likely know already, your FAFSA money comes in the form of loans and grants taken out/given on your behalf. Since the financial aid deadline for submitting your FAFSA application has passed, if you applied for aid you are now in the waiting stage. You're thinking, "Where is my money? When am I going to get it? How much will I get?" Let's take each of those questions one at a time.
1) Where is my money? The answer here is simply that it is not available to you yet. Students all over the country file for financial aid each year and because of that, you will unfortunately have to wait some time until you know your approximate award. It will take several weeks for FAFSA to finish calculating your financial aid.
2) When am I going to get it (the money)? As indicated above, it will take several weeks just to generate an estimate. Usually you can expect to wait 6-8 weeks to find out what you are eligible for. Assuming that you are starting school this coming Fall, your FAFSA money will actually be disbursed into your student account a few weeks or even a few days before classes begin. This is sure to cause some concern for some people if they don't have a clear understanding of what is going on and when. It is a good idea to check with your university to see if they have a specific timeline for financial aid disbursement. There may be a date on the calendar when this is scheduled to happen.
3) How much aid will I get? Simple answer: this depends on your financial need and your enrollment status. A person demonstrating significant financial need (i.e. due to low income, etc) will receive higher FAFSA money amounts, and certain need based financial aid. There are a few things to keep in mind in considering your enrollment status too. As a general guideline, try to maintain at least part time enrollment, as it will profoundly affect the aid you can receive. Stafford and Perkins loans, as well as SEOG grant recipients must be enrolled half-time (6 credits) or more. Receipt of the PHEAA grant also stipulates that you be enrolled no less than part time (i.e. if you take one course or 3 credits you do not qualify). One exception to note is that Pell Grant recipients may, in some cases, still be eligible for aid at less than half-time enrollment. It it best to check with you school about this. Financial aid may be impacted by academic performance, i.e. maintaining a minimum GPA (often 2.0), so always put your best foot forward in the academic arena.
Just remember that as nerve-racking as it may be, all you have to do is follow the financial aid process and wait patiently while your aid amount is calculated. Patience now and hard work later will help your cause.