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Financial Aid Information

What is the FAFSA? It is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is used to apply for federal student financial aid, such as grants, loans and work-study. In addition, most states and schools use information from the FAFSA to award non-federal aid. Students should never pay for their financial aid application to be processed.

When should students apply for financial aid? Students should complete the FAFSA as soon as possible after Jan. 1. The priority deadline is March 1 for most Montana schools. Therefore, it is important for students and their parents to file their taxes early in the student's senior year.

How does a student apply for financial aid?  Students may apply online at www.fafsa.ed.gov   The online application is interactive and offers assistance as students work through it.  Paper versions of FAFSA forms also are available, but are not recommended.

What is a PIN? PIN stands for Personal Identification Number. A PIN serves as a student's identifier to allow access to personal information in various U.S. Department of Education systems. It allows students to sign their federal student aid applications online and to correct application data online. A PIN is required to complete the FAFSA and can be obtained by visiting www.pin.ed.gov  Two PINs are required-- one for the student and one for the parent.  Record and keep this information in a safe place.  Both PINs are required throughout the student’s education.

Does a student need to be admitted to a school before applying for financial aid? No. Students can apply for aid before being admitted. However, some schools may require applicants to apply for admission before a financial aid is awarded. Students must be enrolled at their school before they can receive funding.

Who should apply for financial aid? Anyone who is considering pursuing postsecondary education should apply, even if they don't think they'll qualify.

What is the EFC? EFC is an acronym for Estimated Family Contribution. Cost of attendance minus EFC equals a student's financial need. Colleges use this calculation to create financial aid packages for students. To obtain an estimate of EFC, visit www.fafsa.ed.gov and click on "FAFSA4caster"

How do we get help with the FAFSA?  A financial aid information session is scheduled every January.  Students and parents will be invited to attend an evening information session presented by MSU-Northern's Financial Aid Director.  An annual event called "College Goal Sunday" is scheduled each February.  Individuals who attend the event receive assistance in filing the FAFSA online.  Students who attend and file the FAFSA that day are eligible for a scholarship from a random drawing.