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Learning how FAFSA works


Students learn about how the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) works by completing a simulation activity.

Big idea

To receive federal financial aid (e.g., grants and loans), you (or your family) must fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Essential questions

  • How can the FAFSA help you and your family pay for higher education?
  • How does your family’s financial situation affect the amount of federal financial aid you may receive?


  • Understand how the FAFSA helps students and their families pay for higher education
  • Analyze financial aid packages to explore how federal aid amounts may differ based on a student’s current family and financial situations

What students will do

  • Use the online Federal Student Aid Estimator tool to estimate federal aid amounts for different scenarios.
  • Compare the financial aid packages for different students to better understand eligibility criteria for federal financial aid.

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Teacher guide


Student materials



Note: Please remember to consider your students’ accommodations and special needs to ensure that all students are able to participate in a meaningful way.