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If you’re planning for college, learn more about financial aid and find out how the government can help.

Ask the Dept. of Education Your FAFSA Questions

For those of you who may need help paying for college, a new year means it’s time to complete a new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

We understand the financial aid process can often be overwhelming, especially if you’ve never gone through it before. To help you navigate the process, we are very excited to announce the launch of the @FAFSA Twitter account from Federal Student Aid.

The @FAFSA Twitter account will help support an ongoing conversation around student financial aid, and to kick this off, Martha Kanter, the Under Secretary of Education, will host “FAFSA Office Hours” where she will solicit and answer students’ FAFSA questions live on Twitter using the #askFAFSA hashtag. The event will take place on January 26th at 4:30pm (EST) and will be the first in a monthly series of Q&A sessions that Federal Student Aid will host on Twitter.

Here’s how it works:

  • Follow @FAFSA on Twitter for FAFSA information and financial aid tips.
  • Ask your questions now and during the live event on Twitter using the hashtag #askFAFSA
  • Follow the Q&A live through the @FAFSA Twitter account
  • Can’t make the live session? A summary of the live chat including the full Q&A will be posted on the ED.gov blog following the event.

The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It’s the form to fill out in order to apply for student grants, work-study, and loans. To receive federal student aid for the 2012-13 school year, you must complete the 2012-13 FAFSA at www.fafsa.gov.

Some financial aid is first-come, first-served, so we encourage all potential and returning students to complete the FAFSA as soon as possible. Remember, four-year colleges and universities aren’t the only schools that accept the FAFSA Community colleges, nursing schools, online schools, and career schools do too. More than 6,000 schools accept FAFSA!

We hope you will find this to be a great resource as you pursue your education, so let us know how we can help. Remember, you can complete the FAFSA online today at www.fafsa.gov.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Department of Education have sketched out an idea that they think could improve the way schools communicate financial aid offers to students. They want to know what you think. Share your comments and rank features to improve student financial aid.

Learn About Financial Aid Options for College

Preparing for college can be stressful, but there are lots of resources from both federal and state governments that can help you decide if college is right for you, and if so, how to finance your education.

College.gov

College.gov shows you how to avoid scams targeted at college students as you learn the best ways to fund your education. You can also find the best college to fit your goals, find tips for preparing to take the ACT and SAT exams and college prep advice based on your current year in high school.

Federal Student Aid

Three main types of financial aid are available – grants, work-study programs and federal loans. The Department of Education offers tips on preparing for college, setting money aside in advance and repaying loans once you’re out of school.

529 Plans

529 plans are qualified tuition plans to help you pay ahead of time for a college education. With 529 plans, you have two options – the prepaid tuition plan or college savings plan. The prepaid tuition plan locks in your tuition rate before you attend college but only covers tuition and fees. The college savings plan doesn’t have a locked in rate, but covers tuition, room and board, fees and books.

Other State Resources

Many states offer their own scholarships and grants. Your college’s financial aid office is the best source of information about these state programs. The Department of Education also provides a list of state agencies that can help with financial aid.

Learn more about how you can pay for college.