FAFSA spells free money for college students

It might feel like the fall 2020-21 school year is pretty far out, but if you're looking for financial aid now is the time to apply. Open enrollment for federal student aid began Oct. 1, and it's first-come, first-served.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is $150 billion worth of cash for students. Whether you're a returning student in fall 2020 or a new one, it's time to get your name in the hat for cash. FAFSA gives students access to federal student loans, work-study opportunities, and free cash through grants and scholarships.

FOX 5's Dana Fowle talked with Ashley Boucher of Sallie Mae. They give step-by-step instructions on how to apply and why you should.

"We did a study, actually, called "Americans Pay for College," and in the most recent year of the study we found that 40 percent think that they are not going to qualify for aid; therefore, they don't apply and that's painful to hear because we know that nearly every student qualifies for some amount of aid," the spokeswoman said via Skype.

It's easy to apply and will take 45 minutes tops if you have all of your paperwork ready to go. This is a list of what you'll need.

FASFA PAPERWORK

  1. Driver's License Number
  2. Social Security Number
  3. W-2
  4. Tax Returns

And when you apply there are many ways to do it including an app called "My Student Aid."

For easy access to your tax information, try the IRS data retrieval tool: IRS DRT

When it comes to paying for college, we recommend following a 1-2-3 approach: 1. Start with money you won’t have to pay back. Supplement your college savings and income by maximizing college scholarships, grants, and work-study.2. Explore federal student loans. Apply by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).3. Consider a responsible private student loan. Fill the gap between your available resources and the cost of college.For more information

— Sallie Mae's recommended 3-step approach to student aid