Everything You Need to Know About Adding Schools to Your FAFSA

If you’d like to learn more about how you can add additional schools to your FAFSA form, keep reading!

Image courtesy of Princeton.

You may have always had a school that you dreamed about being accepted to, and have strived to make that acceptance happen through hard work and determination. Maybe you’ve always known what you want to study, and knew that the right school was out there somewhere. Or, perhaps you haven’t given what school you want to attend for higher education too much thought until now! Whatever your situation is, you’ve made the decision to pursue additional education--and that means applying for financial aid!

The best way to ensure you’re getting all the financial aid you qualify for is to complete a FAFSA application. This way, you’ll know what kinds of grants, scholarships, loans, etc. are available for you to pursue. But first, you’ve got to determine what schools to include on the application, or maybe you’re wondering how to add more after you’ve submitted your application. Well, look no further for the answers to these questions, because in this post we’re going to discuss:

  • Choosing what schools are right for you (and your FAFSA)
  • Reasons to apply for financial aid
  • How to add schools to your FAFSA

Before Filling out your FAFSA, You’ll Need to Choose Schools that Are Right for You

How to determine what schools are a good fit for you (and then your FAFSA form!)

college students on campus
Choosing a school takes some thought, so don’t rush the process! Image courtesy of Science.

If you’ve made the decision to go onto higher education, you’ve probably already applied to schools that interest you and where you can see yourself excelling at. Once you’ve gotten your acceptance letter (congratulations!) it’s now time for the hard part--making a decision--or at least narrowing down your list. But what is the best way to determine what school is right for you? There are a few things you’ll want to consider before you determine where you could see yourself spending the next four years, so run each school under consideration through these factors, then do your research on the ones that are shortlisted.

1. Where is it located?

First you’ll need to determine if you’d prefer to stay closer to home (and family) and enjoy the possible benefits of in-state tuition, or would you rather venture out into a new state or city. Staying closer to home may cut down on travel costs, but you might also find your options limited. After you determine that, it’s best to know if you can see yourself in a smaller college town, or a larger city. There are pros and cons to every option here, the important thing is what works best for you.

2. What are the academics like?

As we mentioned earlier, some people who head off to college know exactly what they want to study, and apply to schools with those programs in mind. However, if you’re not quite sure yet, that is completely fine. When narrowing down your list, even if you’re not sure what you want to study just yet, you’ll still want to weigh the academic quality of the schools you have been accepted to and are interested in. Take a look at the rankings of your schools to get a broad overview of how they stand nationally.  

3. What’s the size of the school?

This is a personal preference--some people prefer the hustle and bustle of a larger campus that may offer greater resources and have a variety of majors to choose from. However if you’re more interested in a smaller school, you’ll be able to take advantage of smaller class sizes and could enjoy greater access and attention from your professors. Reflect on what you would feel most comfortable in, since there are all sizes of schools out there.

students at st louis university
Narrow the list of schools you’re interested in and will include on your FAFSA form in the future. Image courtesy of St. Louis University.

4. What is the cost?

Perhaps one of the most important factors determining where you’ll go to school is the cost. The cost of each school you’re interested in is probably different, and will play a role in determining how much financial aid you qualify for (more on that later!). In order to determine the total cost of attendance (TCOA) you’ll need to factor in tuition, room and board, books, supplies, and other additional costs. The TCOA and the amount of financial aid you receive could help you narrow down the list of schools that work for your situation.

5. How is the school environment?

The schools you put on your shortlist should mesh well with your overall personality and goals you’d like to achieve. Some people might want to choose a larger institution because of the greater amounts of social opportunities that they can offer, while others prefer smaller schools away from larger cities so they can concentrate on their academics. Think about how you’d like to spend your time in the classroom, as well as away from it.

Now that you’ve narrowed down your list of schools that you could see yourself attending, it’s time to talk about the next big step towards stepping foot on campus: learning about and applying for financial aid.

Apply for Financial Aid with a FAFSA

The easiest way to qualify for financial aid? Fill out a FAFSA!

student adding schools to their fafsa
Adding schools to the FAFSA is easy, and will give you a lot of options to choose from. Image courtesy of C2 Education.

When it’s time to think about what school you would like to attend, it’s also time to think about the financial aid you need. The easiest way to see what your financial aid options are is to fill out a FAFSA application. By filling out this form, you will be able to see what types of financial aid are available to you such as grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study opportunities. We always suggest that all students who are planning to attend college fill out this form, because not only is it free, but it will give you an accurate picture of the amount of financial aid you qualify for.

Even if you don’t think that you qualify for financial assistance, it never hurts to fill the form out anyway. There could be scholarships or grants that you can use that you may have not heard of otherwise. The form is a one stop shop on your financial aid pathway, and you can complete the FAFSA in just a few steps:

  • First, make sure to collect your family’s tax and income information
  • Have social security numbers of the student and parents on hand
  • Apply for your federal ID PIN so you can file it online
  • Fill out the FAFSA form
  • Submit the form and await the results of your financial aid award from your chosen schools

As you’re filling out the form, you’ll notice that you are required to add at least one school to the form to receive your financial aid information. In order to determine your financial aid award, the form subtracts the expected family contribution from the total cost of attendance (TCOA) for a school. The amount that’s left is what you may qualify for in financial aid.

Adding schools to your FAFSA when completing your application

When you’re in your FAFSA application it’s easy to include the school(s) that you’re interested in attending so you can see the amount of financial aid you qualify to get for each school. If you’re in the application, just include the names of the schools on the form so that they receive your information and can determine the appropriate amount of financial aid that you qualify for from that particular institution.

How to Add More Schools to Your FAFSA After Submitting

If you’ve already submitted your application but realized you’d like to add a school(s) to your FAFSA form, not to worry! First, log into your FAFSA account and then find where to make FAFSA corrections. You’ll then need to to navigate to where you can make your school selections. To add a school to the FAFSA form, search for the school that you would like to choose to receive your information. You can choose up to ten schools to receive your information in order to get an accurate picture of what kind of financial aid you can get. This is where having a shortlist of schools you’d like to attend really pays off, as the amount of aid you qualify for could help you make a decision on where to attend.

As you can see, completing and submitting an accurate FAFSA form can determine how much financial aid you qualify for. Because the cost of attendance varies from school to school, the amount of aid you receive will depend as well. This is why it’s so important that you take the time to determine what kind of school you’d like to attend, as their cost of attendance (minus your family’s expected contribution) will determine your financial aid options. Remember, you can always add more schools to your FAFSA, so make sure you’re keeping your options open. Send your information to a couple of schools--you never know what kind of aid you might receive!

Bridget Houlihan
Bridget is a writer based in Pittsburgh, PA.
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