Finding fast FAFSA cash

The Financial Aid office located in the Student Services building.

The average cost of attending Weber State University for in-state residents living on campus in 2021 was anywhere between $12,500 and $18,000. This estimate doesn’t account for food, entertainment, gas and maintenance for vehicles or university sponsored events.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is a database where students ranging from recent high school graduates to non-traditional students in their senior year of college apply for federal student aid.

The U.S. Department of Education reported that the average Pell Grant given to students totals around $13,000 to $15,000 per year. The amount is determined by a formula that will take into account students’ financial need, cost of tuition and expected family contribution.

A Pell Grant is money given to students by the government to help pay for the costs of attending higher education. Unlike federal student loans, Pell Grants do not need to be repaid and don’t accrue any interest.

For WSU students, the cost of tuition is relatively lower compared to universities in other parts of the country, so a grant of $13,000-15,000 could almost entirely cover cost of attendance.

National College Attainment Network, a non-profit organization, conducted a study that showed “the high school class of 2021 left an estimated $3.75 billion in Pell Grants on the table.” These billions of dollars could have been easily claimed by students in need by filling out the FAFSA form.

For those who have not filled out a FAFSA form before, there is an option on the online application that says “new to the FAFSA form? Start Here.” After clicking that button, students will be asked who they are filling the form out for and prompted to create a login for future use.

From there, the application asks an array of financial, personal and work-related questions to determine a student’s financial need. After submitting the form, it will take about three to five business days for students to hear back. The response will typically announce whether the student qualifies for Pell Grants and, if so, how much they are being awarded.

Some best practices to maximize Pell Grant amounts include filling out the FAFSA form early. More specifically, it is recommended that students fill out the application before Oct. 1.

It is also recommended that students fill out the online application as opposed to the physical application.

Online applications are processed faster and results are usually communicated within three to five business days, as opposed to five to seven business days for the physical application.

During the online application, students have the option to use the IRS data retrieval tool. This will prompt students to enter some of their personal tax information and the IRS retrieval tool will gather all the requisite information that is found from tax filings, making the process a bit faster.

Students can submit FAFSA applications on