Financial Aid: Federal & State Aid

From the Counselor's Office

How to Fill Out the FAFSA

Federal Student Aid

Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is what you will need to complete in order to receive federal aid. The federal aid money helps students pay for their college education—tuition, fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation. Federal aid can come in the form of scholarships, grants, loans, or work-study funds.

The application for FAFSA will be available for seniors and their parents to complete starting on January 1st. What you can do in preparation for filling out the FAFSA is get your FSA ID (in the past, it was the FSA PIN). "Students, parents, and borrowers are required to use an FSA ID, made up of a username and password, to access certain U.S. Department of Education websites. Your FSA ID is used to confirm your identity when accessing your financial aid information and electronically signing your federal student aid documents." To get your FSA ID, go to

There is a lot of information on the FAFSA website, so I encourage you to go there to learn all about the Federal Aid programs. I also encourage you to check deadlines at the colleges of interest your senior may be attending in the fall. Colleges may have different deadlines for the FAFSA, so stay informed. For seniors who qualify for the Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship, the FAFSA is one of the requirements; therefore, your FAFSA must be filed by June 1, 2016.

After the FAFSA: What Happens Next


To apply for state aid, you will use the YOUniversal application on the Arkansas Department of Higher Education website, When you apply using the YOUniversal application, you are applying for ALL ADHE scholarship/grant programs:

  • Arkansas Academic Challenge (June 1 Deadline)
  • Governor’s Distinguished Scholarship (February 1 Deadline)
  • GO Opportunities Grant

The Arkansas Academic Challenge is the scholarship most St. Joseph students qualify for, but students will not receive a scholarship if they do not apply and send in all required documents by the deadline. In an effort to help out the seniors and their parents, I will have all qualified seniors (those with a composite ACT of 19 or higher) fill out the online YOUniversal application during English class on January 8th. Since a high school transcript and ACT scores are required, I will also mail those to ADHE for those seniors who apply during class on January 8. Any senior who applies later will need to request their transcript and ACT scores from my office so that they can mail them.

I am often asked if you can submit the YOUniversal Application if you have not filed the FAFSA yet, and the answer is YES. The FAFSA must be filed by June 1 for the Arkansas Academic Challenge, but students can put in their application before the FAFSA is complete. Please note, students will not be be awarded any state aid until the FAFSA is submitted, so do not procrastinate. I have had students awarded the Arkansas Academic Challenge as early as April because all requirements were completed, while others have waited well into June because the FAFSA was filed later in April or May.