Citizen’s FAFSA FAQs

What is the FAFSA?

FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and it is the application students and family members must complete annually in order to obtain federal student financial aid.
Processing the forms, paperwork and application are the responsibility of the Office of Federal Student Aid, which is part of the U.S. Department of Education. The Office of Federal Student Aid uses the information supplied on FAFSA documents to determine eligibility for grants, student loans, and work-study programs. Aid can also be awarded by the state government, colleges and by private scholarship sources which may require students file the FAFSA to apply.

Citizen is not affiliated with any government agencies, including the Department of Education, or with any other governmental entities or educational institutions. Citizen provides simplified online preparation and filing software to assist in preparing and filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid ("FAFSA") and to help users determine their potential eligibility for student financial aid. Citizen’s software is not a substitute to the official FAFSA or EZ FAFSA forms, which are provided for free on the U.S. Department of Education at and may be completed via paper or online without professional assistance. Citizen does not provide any professional advice of any kind, whether legal, financial or otherwise.

Is FAFSA a loan?

The FAFSA is not a loan. The FAFSA is an application students must complete in order to receive federal college aid, which may include loans as part of the award package.
Depending on the student’s financial needs, he or she may be offered a government student loan as part of their overall financial aid package. Students are not required to take out the loan and they should carefully read the terms of any loan before electing to borrow any money to attend college. Loans are offered by both the federal government and private lenders, so the terms for student loan repayment can vary significantly, depending on the lender.

Am I eligible to receive financial aid?

There are several key factors students must meet in order to qualify for federal financial aid. Students can learn if they qualify using Citizen’s fast track eligibility module.

How do I fill out the FAFSA?

To complete a FAFSA students need to provide information from their (or their parents’) most recent income tax return, W-2s or bank statements along with some personal information to help determine their eligibility for federal aid. Using Citizen’s Intuitive Application Assistant makes it fast and easy.

What is the FAFSA deadline?

There are actually different deadlines for different programs. The FAFSA deadline for 2016-2017 requires students apply between October 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017. For the 2017-2018 year, applications must be received between October 1, 2016 and June 30, 2018. However, Citizen encourages students to apply as early as possible as some assistance is offered on a first come, first served basis.
Because state financial aid deadlines differ from state to state, students should check with local college financial aid officials. Students are also encouraged to explore aid opportunities offered by the college and professional organizations as well as deadlines specific to those opportunities.

How is financial aid eligibility determined?

A number of factors determine financial aid eligibility including personal income, family assets (if applicable), the year the student intends to attend college, tuition fees and the school. Using this information (and other factors), the financial aid office at your college or career school will determine the amount of financial assistance a student will receive.

When do I find out how much money I will receive?

After submitting your FAFSA, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) with information that each college will use to create a financial aid package for you. Incoming freshman who have completed their applications before March 31 should receive an award letter from the schools where they’ve been accepted no later than April 15. Returning undergraduates may receive theirs as late as June.

Does FAFSA cover books?

Yes. The financial aid that a student receives after submitting FAFSA can be applied to the full costs of college, which can include books, tuition, fees, student expenses, the cost of housing, transportation, laptops and even food.

Are student loans ever “forgiven”?

Although student loan forgiveness is rare, in some situations student loans may be discharged or canceled. If repaying student loans is a concern, students should carefully read their student loan application before signing to determine what circumstances justify loan forgiveness.

What are FAFSA requirements?

When submitting FAFSA, applicants will need their Social Security Number (or their Alien Registration Number if they are not U.S. citizens), their most recent federal tax returns, W-2s, bank statements as well as a list of assets and information regarding untaxed income. You will also need to identify the school you intend to attend.
If you are a dependent student, you will also need to report your guardian’s information.

How does Citizen help with the FAFSA application process?

Citizen streamlines the FAFSA application form process by providing students and their families with a smart, secure and simple online application process. Best of all, once your personal information is entered into our secure database, Citizen retains it, making filing the annual FAFSA application a breeze. We also offer a variety of helpful tools and FAFSA calculators to aid in your research.

Do I have to provide my parents’ information?

If you’re considered a dependent student, you are required to provide your parents’ information on the FAFSA, even if you do not live with them or they will not be helping you pay for college. Dependent students with special circumstances can choose to leave their parents’ information off of the application. Independent students are not required to provide their parents’ information but some students may choose to do so if their school requires it.

Will I need to fill out the FAFSA each year?

Yes. In order to be eligible for federal aid you need to fill out the FAFSA each year. Your school will not use the information you provided in a previous year to determine your continued eligibility. Citizen makes this easy by retaining your information in our secure database and making it accessible to you the following year to prefill your application.

Why do some students get more financial aid than others?

Income, assets, household size and dependency all play a role in determining a student’s EFC and ultimately their financial aid eligibility. Mistakes on the FAFSA can lead to an EFC which leaves the student with less financial aid than they would have otherwise qualified for. Citizen provides helpful tooltips tailored to a student’s situation to help them avoid these mistakes and position themselves for the aid they are eligible for.