College School Codes for Federal Student Aid

In order to qualify for federal student funding, such as the Pell Grant and Direct Loan programs, students must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Prospective students need to submit a copy of their FAFSAs to each college or university to which they're applying. Including the correct school code for every institution will help ensure that your FAFSA reaches the right places. Read on to learn how to find your college school codes for federal student aid.

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Applying for Financial Aid

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

The FAFSA is one of the most important forms for current and prospective students who hope to receive financial aid. The U.S. Department of Education uses the FAFSA to determine student eligibility for all types of federal student aid. Low-income students may qualify for Pell Grants, which don't need to be paid back, or Perkins Loans, which don't accumulate interest while you're still in school.

In addition, almost all students can qualify for Direct Loans. Unlike many private loans, payments don't need to be made on these low-interest loans while students are actively enrolled in a postsecondary program. Finally, the federal government uses the FAFSA to determine students' eligibility for federal work study funds.

Furthermore, your FAFSA isn't just important for federal aid. Many colleges and universities also use this information to determine your eligibility for institutional grants and scholarships that don't need to be paid back.

It's important to remember that the FAFSA has to be filled out at the beginning of each year, even if you're already receiving student funding. You can get a copy of the form by visiting your school's financial aid office or by visiting the FAFSA website (www.fafsa.ed.gov), which also includes more information about federal student aid.

Finding Your College School Codes

Because schools use the FAFSA to make their own financial aid decisions, a copy of your form must go to the individual schools as well as the federal government. In order to prevent students from having to fill out and submit a new form for every institution, the Department of Education will automatically submit a copy to up to ten schools for you.

This is where college school codes come in. These codes, which are unique to each institution, tell the federal aid system where your forms need to go. You can find the college code for each school that needs your form by going to the FAFSA website and clicking on 'School Code Search.'

It's important to note that the codes are subject to change each year. In order to ensure that you're choosing the right code, select the year for which you would actually receive the aid, not necessarily the current school year. For example, if you're filling out the FAFSA in January 2011 for the next school year, then you would select 2011-2012.

After you've selected the correct school year, enter the state in which your college resides and click 'Search'. If you come up with too many results to sort through, try narrowing it by the optional 'City' field. You can also enter the school's name, but because the federal database may use a slightly different version of the name than you do, this can often result in narrowing the search results too far. You may also find that there are multiple codes for your school for different programs or departments. If this comes up, be sure to select the one that most closely matches your field.

You'll need to run the search again for each school. Write down the school codes as you find them so that you can enter them on your FAFSA. If you choose to fill out the form online, you'll find that the school code search is integrated into the online system.

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