| 2/2/15 7:54am

Some Grand Valley State University students may run screaming when they hear the word “FAFSA.” Others may shrug and say “Who cares?” Still others may scratch their heads and wonder what this acronym even means.

Many college students in Michigan, as well as the nation, rely heavily on financial aid – no matter where they attend or how much they pay. One of the biggest problems is that many students are unaware of their financial aid options or where they can look for them.

The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The federal government provides financial aid money (loans, scholarships and grants) for students. While loans need to be paid back, scholarships and grants are essentially free money put toward college.

Many students rely on their parents to file the FAFSA for them, but it is important for students to learn about the process that goes into it. The financial aid of the students is what will be affected by filing the FAFSA and doing so correctly, so it is important for students to know how to do it themselves to help them through their college career and finish their education with less debt.

Filling out this application is important to help pay for that ever-increasing tuition bill. The online application calculates how much aid a student can receive based on factors that relate to the family, like the parents’ income, age and how many people live in the home. The FAFSA is currently available to access and is due by March 1. Students should complete the FAFSA every year because the amount of aid they need can change.

Students should take advantage of the resources that GVSU offers. The financial aid office can help answer any questions students might have about the FAFSA, or financial aid in general, and make the process less stressful.

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