The web has a growing number of free resources that can help students and parents fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, which is the form that qualifies college students for grants, scholarships, and low-priced student loans.
[Read the three ways applying for financial aid is getting easier in 2011.]
Unfortunately, like everything else on the web, there's plenty of misleading and boring FAFSA videos, too. A YouTube search for FAFSA videos, for example, turns up several "webinars" that are really sales come-ons for high-priced private consultants.
I've searched the web for free FAFSA videos that appear to be accurate, helpful, and somewhat fun to watch. Here's a list (in alphabetical order):
Fastweb has posted a fun five-minute introduction to the FAFSA.
Fresno Pacific University's video about a sock puppet asking for financial aid is um, socko, though the information is very specific to that university. (Students not attending FPU should not use the FAFSA address listed in the video. They can access the FAFSA at www.fafsa.ed.gov.)
The Williamsburg Charter High School in Brooklyn, N.Y. made a catchy rap video about the FAFSA.
For those who want more FAFSA details:
EducationQuest, a Nebraska-based nonprofit, has posted several financial aid podcasts and videos. A good introduction for students is the "The FAFSA Made Easy" 10-minute video.
Mark Kantrowitz, founder of Finaid.org and Fastweb.com, shares some of his encyclopedic financial aid knowledge.
James Madison University's Brad Barnett, a senior associate director of financial aid, has taped answers to some frequently asked questions, such as what to do if your parent refuses to fill out a FAFSA and what to do if your parents get rejected for a PLUS loan.
The Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Corporation has posted how-to videos about the FAFSA in Spanish and English.
The Education section of usnews.com has posted some quick and fun "Beat the FAFSA" videos explaining ways to avoid mistakes that might reduce your grants or scholarships, such as how applying to and listing several schools on a FAFSA might increase your aid; which divorced parents should be listed on a FAFSA; and how you can use the FAFSA's quirky rules about savings to possibly increase your eligibility for aid.
The Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority has some simple videos about starting, and finishing, a FAFSA.
If you have suggestions for additions to this list, E-mail email@example.com.
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Updated on 1/04/11: An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect home state for EducationQuest. It is based in Nebraska.