The first step in applying for financial assistance should be a familiar one. With all the changes looming in the US Department of Education's (DOE) College Tax Credit Program, understanding the steps you need to take to ensure college funding is doubly important.

Start with the FAFSA (CSS PROFILE) and if your school needs it, see if you are offered a financial assistance package. Colleges and universities listed on your FAFSA that you accept will send you an "offer of financial assistance," as described on their website. You will receive your results as soon as possible to identify your financial support and prepare the FinancialAid package. After you submit your FAFSA and process your information, you will receive a grant letter listing all the grant sources available to you.

On the YouTube channel of the Federal Aid you can find short informational videos about the process. If you have any questions about FAFSA registration, you can get help online or contact your financial assistance administrator at 800-433-3243 (toll-free) or 1-888-567-4357. You can also request your FAFSA on paper by calling (800) 4FEDAID (800-433-3243) or by e-mail to fafsa @ federal-student-aid.org. Once you are ready to complete FAFSA online (or if you have Internet access), download it as a PDF file for your paper application if it is available on the Internet.

Once you have submitted your FAFSA, you can link directly from the FAFSA confirmation page to your TAP application. The application forms for state aid are integrated so that you will automatically be on the state form after submitting your application.

If you are not ready to submit your FAFSA yet, the Department of Education's fafsa4caster tool can help you assess your eligibility for federal student aid by providing you with basic information. The FAFSA4casters of the U.S. Department of Education will give you an estimate of your eligibility for federal funding before you submit the FAFSA.

FAFSA is a long, comprehensive application form that you must fill out and submit to the government to receive federal financial assistance. Students who complete them can be selected for review, and if you want to be, this is the start. FAFSA completion and submission is free and gives you access to federal funds to fund your higher education, college, professional or school education. The submission of a FAFSA gives you the opportunity to receive the best financial support that can enable you to afford college.

The Federal Student Assistance Office, which manages FAFSA, is the gateway to this kind of assistance. Students have a variety of support options available, including scholarships, loans, scholarships and other types of financial support such as Pell grants. If you think you can qualify, you can file your FAFSA, but you have to get used to the fact that you may not qualify for all.

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