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FAFSA Support

Here are some helpful tips for you and your family

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FAFSA Information for Students

At HNU, we’re dedicated to making education accessible for our students. We prove this commitment by offering an array of financial aid opportunities. Higher education can be expensive. Hawks enjoy scholarships, grants, and other funds that aid prospective and current students. At HNU, few undergraduate students pay the full cost of attending.

Your access to financial aid opportunities hinges on filling out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Quick links:

Why the FAFSA Is So Important

Colleges use the FAFSA to estimate a student’s financial need. Your answers determine which loans, need-based scholarships, work-study programs, and grants are available to you.

You can start filling out your FAFSA on October 1, and you should submit the completed form as early as possible. Some aid goes to students on a first-come, first-serve basis. The deadline for your FAFSA may change based on your state and school of choice.

Time to Prepare!

Filing your FAFSA might feel daunting. However, the process is less complicated than most students expect. Plus, some preparation makes submitting your application much less time-consuming.

The first step toward completing your FAFSA is creating your FSA ID. You’ll use this ID to access your account and sign your application. Your FSA ID is also required to change information on your FAFSA or add new schools. Your parents will need separate IDs.

Your Filing Checklist

Here are the things you’ll need when you sit down with your parent to complete and submit your FAFSA:

  • FSA ID
  • Social Security Number (SSN) or Alien Registration Number
  • Driver’s license (if possible)
  • Federal income tax returns and W-2s for you and your parent (Hint: Import your data quickly with the IRS Data Retrieval Tool!)
  • A current bank statement
  • Records of any other money you and your parent have earned
  • Records of untaxed income and investments

If you struggle to track down these items, or if you realize you need something you haven’t prepared, that’s okay! Get started as soon as possible. You can start your FAFSA and revisit it to add and update information as often as you need to.

Get Help With Your FAFSA

If you feel get stuck on your FAFSA, you can turn to several sources for help. You can always connect with the financial aid office at Holy Names University. The experts there can answer specific questions about the filing process.
If you have questions about a field on your FAFSA, check out the tooltips next to each inquiry. Each tip links to a help page, and the site even has a chat option. You can also call 1-800-4-FED-AID for help.
This webinar has a detailed demonstration of what filling out the FAFSA looks like.

FAFSA also has a YouTube channel where you can find instructional videos. These step-by-step tutorials cover a range of topics from completing the application to making your FSA ID. You can watch videos about the several kinds of federal student aid available to you as well.

Fact or Fiction: Dispelling Myths About FAFSA

Always verify your sources when you research the FAFSA. Information can empower you, but it’s crucial that you access resources with accurate information. After all, your FAFSA ensures you get the funds you need to go to college.

Fiction: You have to fill out the FAFSA on a computer. 

Fact: You can fill out a hard copy of the FAFSA and mail it in. Call 1-800-4-FED-AID to request your paper form. You can also file on your phone using the myStudentAid app. Download it for free on the Google Play store for Androids and the App Store for iPhones.

Fiction: Filing my FAFSA costs a fee.

Fact: As its name states, submitting your FAFSA is completely free! If a website or app asks for payment, exit it immediately.

Fiction: Filling out the FAFSA is time-consuming.

Fact: The average FAFSA filing process takes just 22 to 30 minutes. Use this FAFSA worksheet to preview the application.

Fiction: I can’t find the information the FAFSA asks for. 

Fact: The questions on the FAFSA ask about easily located information. Your SSN, driver’s license information, and bank statements should be accessible. Though you will need your tax information, you can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool instead of copying the information from your tax forms.

Fiction: The FAFSA requires information on both of my parents.

Fact: The FAFSA is compatible with many family models. Depending on your situation, you may input one or both parents’ information. You may even not need to include parental information at all. HNU’s financial aid office can also help you navigate filling out a FAFSA under any untraditional circumstances. Check out this resource regarding parental involvement.

Fiction: I don’t have to complete the FAFSA.

Fact: Filing your FAFSA gives you access to federal aid and need-based funds from your school. If you have any interest in need-based aid like grants, scholarships, or low-interest loans, you must submit the FAFSA before the state deadline.

Fiction: My family has to file our tax returns before I fill out my FAFSA.

Fact: “Prior-prior year” tax information is valid for your FAFSA. For example, you can use your 2020 tax information to fill out your FAFSA for 2021.

Fiction: I’m not an American citizen, so I cannot receive financial aid. 

Fact: Federal financial aid is available for students who have specific non-citizen statuses. Note that your parents’ citizenship status has no impact on your eligibility for federal aid. Find out more about federal student aid for DACA recipients.

Fund Your Education

After signing and submitting your FAFSA, you’ll receive your Student Aid Report (SAR). The schools you included in your application will get the information you provided. Check out this list of important terms. You’ll see these acronyms and concepts on your SAR and on documents about your financial aid packages:

  • Student Aid Report (SAR): Your SAR summarizes the information on your FAFSA. It also has information about the federal student aid you qualify for and the amount of your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
  • Expected Family Contribution: This number is the amount the government determines your family could contribute to your educational expenses each year. Colleges use this projection to determine your financial need.
  • Cost of Attendance (COA): The COA is the estimated cost of attending your school for an academic year. This quote includes various expenses, like tuition, room and board, books and supplies, fees, and miscellaneous costs.
  • Financial need: To get this number, the government subtracts your EFC from the total COA. The remainder serves as an estimate for how much money you’ll need from sources outside your family.
  • Net price: This is the final estimate of how much one year at HNU will cost you. The net price is the COA minus the sum of all financial aid you receive.
  • Subsidized loan: Subsidized loans are need-based, and you’re exempt from paying interest while you’re enrolled at Holy Names.
  • Unsubsidized loan: Unsubsidized loans are available for students who cannot demonstrate financial need. However, you’re responsible for paying the interest, even when you’re in school.
  • Scholarships and grants: Both scholarships and grants are funds that you don’t need to repay. Students receive these monetary gifts from various sources. You can receive a scholarship or grant through your studies, athletic talents, character, etc. Scholarships and grants come in renewable and individual awards.
  • Work-study: Work-study refers to on-campus, part-time employment opportunities. Eligibility for work-study positions is need-based.

If you run into financial jargon or other terms, you can reach out to Holy Names University’s financial aid office. We’ll help you translate these terms into language that helps you understand your options.

Attending a small, private university like Holy Names might be more affordable than you think. Find out for yourself by completing your FAFSA. You can access information about financial aid and the application on the Federal Student Aid website.


Having the right information is the first step toward filling out your FAFSA. Here are some of the most common questions we hear from students and their families.

When Is the FAFSA Deadline?

For most state financial aid programs, the FAFSA deadline for the 2021-2022 academic year is March 2, 2021. That means you must submit or postmark your FAFSA by that date. The Cal Grant requires that you also postmark your certified GPA by March 2.

Note that this is a state deadline that applies only to universities in California.

Can I Submit My FAFSA Late?

If you miss California’s FAFSA deadline, be sure to submit it before the federal deadline on June 30, 2022. If you miss the federal deadline, you are ineligible for the FAFSA for that academic year.

If you submit your application online, it should process in three to five days. Mailed applications take seven to 10 days.

Do I Need to Fill Out the FAFSA to Apply for Grants and Scholarships?

A FAFSA isn’t required to receive certain financial aid in California. However, most grants and scholarships require a completed FAFSA. If you want financial aid, we highly recommend applying before the deadline.

Regardless of how many schools you apply to, you only need to complete one application. List each school on your FAFSA, and each one will receive your information.

Do I Have to Pay Back Financial Aid Received From FAFSA?

FAFSA gives you access to three forms of federal student aid: grants, work-study eligibility, and federal loans. You do not have to pay off a federal grant.* Work-study is an arrangement that lets you earn an income through on-campus employment. Loans are the only form of financial aid that you’re expected to pay back. Your FAFSA information may factor into decisions about scholarships.

*Note that there are some conditions under which you may need to pay back a federal grant. If you drop out or register for less than your expected course load, you may have to pay back all or a portion of the amount you received.

How Can International Students Apply for FAFSA?

For prospective students with a Social Security card from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — or those without a card, we recommend a different strategy.  You should complete the California Dream Act Application. Connect with a financial aid administrator or the California Student Aid Commission for more information.

Fund Your Education at Holy Names University

If you’re ready to apply for the FAFSA, you can do so on the Federal Student Aid website.

Do you have more questions about filling out your FAFSA in California? Contact the enrollment counselors at Holy Names University for more information!