What Does FAFSA Cover? | FAFSA Series Part VI

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If this is your first time as a FAFSA applicant, or you just need a little clarification, we’re going to discuss a few things related to a pretty common question: What Does FAFSA Cover?

In our most recent college preparation article, we discussed who files FAFSA for divorced parents.  As a follow up in our ongoing FAFSA Series, we plan to address some questions regarding what you can use your FAFSA funds for, without getting yourself into some trouble by the federal government.  But first, what does FAFSA cover in terms of the total cost of college?

What Does FAFSA Cover?

Every school in the country have different costs associated with tuition, room and board, books etc.  And many families wonder if the total amount of FAFSA aid is going to be enough to cover it all.  And if it doesn’t, how do families cover the rest of the costs when FAFSA falls short?

Well unfortunately, don’t count on your FAFSA aid to cover everything.  Currently, FAFSA is set up to award the following educational aid loans:

  • First Year Students: $5,500
  • Second Year Students: $6,500
  • Third Year and Beyond: $7,500
  • Maximum Amount of Debt From Loans: $31,000
    *These figures are for Dependent Undergraduate Students

As you can see, without taking out a PLUS loan or a Private Student Loan, there is a very good chance you will not be able to fund your college education with just FAFSA alone.  Many families have to get creative to cover that EFC, or expected family contribution.  Getting a job on campus, working over the summer, using money from a college fund or savings are all great options, but not every student has that ability.

Obtaining a private student loan is becoming much more common these days, and in our tough economic condition.  The good news is that educational loans generally have a relatively lower interest rate and are also considered “good debt”, if there is such a thing.  SimpleTuition.com has a pretty streamlined way of getting some free information about private educational loans.  You can try them out here: Simple Tuition

Now that we’ve established the fact that it’s pretty likely that your total cost of college per year will exceed your FAFSA award, let’s answer some of the common questions that arise regarding what FAFSA covers…

Does FAFSA Cover Community College?

Yes.  As long as you are applying for FAFSA, you are getting money to aid in furthering your education.  It does not matter if those funds are used at the University level, or at the Community college.  Also, Junior and Community colleges are traditionally much less expensive than the 4 year institutions but be careful.  There are plenty of Community colleges out there that cost a pretty penny.  Check with your specific school to see if your FAFSA award will cover your Community college costs.

Does FAFSA Cover Room and Board?

Again, as long as these costs are education-related, then the answer is yes.  If it requires you to live on campus in order to get your education, then that is considered education-related.  When you receive your FAFSA award money, you can put it into your bank account and use it like you would any other funds from there.  So, writing a rent check for your place is considered ok.  FAFSA will cover your room and board.

Which leads us into our next common question…

Does FAFSA Cover Off Campus Housing?

Here again, these expenses are related to you finding a place of residence at your college in order to further your education.  You may use your FAFSA funds to pay rent and expenses for living, even if you are off campus in a house, condo or appartment.  So does FAFSA cover off campus housing?  You betcha!  Feel free to use all or some of the funds for your living quarters, or even food and groceries if you have some money left over!

Does FAFSA Cover Summer Classes?

If you plan on staying for all or part of the summer in order to take extra classes, more power to you!  But, don’t expect to get any more money from the Federal Government for it.  Your total amount for FAFSA is listed above depending on what year in school you are.  You cannot exceed that amount using FAFSA.  So, if you need money for summer classes  you may have to find a different way to fund that.  Getting a job or additional money via a private loan are two pretty common ways of doing so. 

But, if you have money left over from the regular Fall/Spring semester sessions, then you can use it to fund your summer school tuition.  So, does FAFSA cover summer classes?  Yes…if you have the money!

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Comments

19 Responses to “What Does FAFSA Cover? | FAFSA Series Part VI”
  1. r.j. pretty says:

    If I have used fasfa funds to pay for 2 years at a community college and have obtained an associates degree, will I be eligible for additional fafsa money at another community college even id I am not working towards a bachelors degree?

  2. Admin says:

    r.j.
    You should still be eligible for FAFSA funds at another community college. You may have to go through the application process again seeing as it is a different school, but you may not have to. The very first thing you should do is contact the financial aid office at your new school. It will make the process a little more streamlined for you!

  3. a.m. tired says:

    It’s wonderful that FAFSA awards are available to those who truly need it – but those who lie on their income tax returns to get free government money should be ashamed of themselves – and are definitely not setting a good example for their children/students…no wonder our country’s budget is in such trouble.

  4. Admin says:

    It truely is disappointing that some people will lie to get what they want. But now-a-days, it’s difficult to gain any “free” government money for education, even if you lied on your FAFSA. You would have to be pretty close to the poverty line in order to qualify for any government grants (ie free money).

  5. Daniel says:

    Can u take online courses with your fafsa?

  6. Admin says:

    Daniel,
    I don’t believe you can. When you fill out the FAFSA form, you will need to let them know what state the Federal School Code is for your college and I don’t think online schools are included with that…
    https://fafsa.ed.gov/FAFSA/app/schoolSearch?locale=en_EN

  7. Kasey says:

    I took courses from Everest College online and earned my “degree” from taking all online courses. Does FASFA cover those classes? I found out they weren’t locally accredited so my degree is worthless and I’m trying to track down where my grants and everything went. Also does Pell Grant cover online courses from Everest?

  8. Admin says:

    Kasey,
    We are a bit less familiar with online colleges and the process in which FAFSA covers the costs. Here is a decent article you may want to take a look at….
    http://www.adultlearn.com/school-grants-aid.htm

  9. andy says:

    My parents have 4 boys and I’m the only one that went to college and I only got 1000 in free money and I think its bs.I have 30 grand in student loan debt and there is nothing anyone can do for me cuz they aren’t federally backed.I’m not rich and and neither are my parents does anyone have help for me.

  10. Admin says:

    It’s really unfortunate, but the govenment money that backs FAFSA is becoming less available. The amount you get depends on a number of factors that include the college you’re attending, your parents assets and income as well as the number of siblings you have that are currently enrolled in college.

  11. Cynthia G says:

    After using our FAFSA money for educational purposes, if there is any money left over, can we save it in a bank account? O r will the government take it away? Is there a time limit on how long i can keep the left over money?

  12. morgan says:

    does fafsa cover yearly or quarterly???

  13. Admin says:

    Cynthia,
    If you have money left over from your FAFSA award, it can be put into an account and used for other educational expenses you have in the future. Another alternative is to simply pay back that “left over” money to your overall FAFSA loan once you get your first statement. Remember, you are not REQUIRED to make a FAFSA monthly payment until 6 months after graduation.

    Morgan,
    FAFSA is usually awarded twice during the regualr school year….so once in the Fall semester, and once in the Spring semester. That money is meant to cover 1 year of schooling and is renewable every year.

  14. Brandy says:

    I have received FASFA for the two years I have been in community college working towards my A.A.. I will be graduating over summer and plan on transferring to UCF. Will I still receive grants or will it only be loans available for my last two years? I have heard that you only get grants for an AA or a max of 90 credits

  15. Chase R says:

    I’m attending a community college for my 3rd year, to earn my associates degree, and don’t want to exhaust my FAFSA. if I use FAFSA for the 3rd year in Juniro College, wil they grant me funds for the 2 additional years at a traditional college? Should I just pay for the 3rd year out-of-pocket?

  16. Admin says:

    Chase,
    That is a great question and one that the FAFSA people can probably answer better, as they will know your current standing with them regarding how much you’ve already taken…and how much you can still get. Our advice to you would be to do everything in your power to pay out of pocket for the Junior College since it’s probably much cheaper.

  17. Admin says:

    Brandy,
    You may be mislead regarding the grant situation. If you are receiving a Grant via FAFSA, then it probably doesn’t matter what school you are attending…you should still get that. I would also check with UCF’s financial aid dept. Since UCF’s tuition is probably larger than your community college’s cost, you may qualify for MORE money while attending UCF to cover the additional costs. The only way to be sure is to renew your FAFSA and see what they can do for you.

  18. TaShawn Tyus says:

    Hey. I plan on attending Florida State College Jacksonville in the Fall 2012. Its a 2 year college. I am from Chicago and they offer housing for students to stay on campus at Univeristy of North Florida. Will housing be included on my FAFSA? How do I go about paying for housing with FAFSA

  19. Admin says:

    FAFSA awards come in the form of a check and is distributed by the financial aid department of the college/university that you are attending. How you choose to use that money is up to you, but please keep in mind that using FAFSA money on non-educational expenses can result in the Federal Government taking action and penalizing you.

    Make sure the money is used for tuition, books, fees, room/board etc…

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