FAFSA Season: Getting the Maximum College Financial Aid in 2011

Lynnette Khalfani Cox - college financial aid
Lynnette Khalfani Cox - college financial aid

FAFSA season, the financial aid and college admissions period, officially began January 1.

If you're hoping to earn an undergraduate or graduate degree, or are the parent of someone going to college, you need to know all you can about the FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

That's the all-important document that must be filled out to determine your -- or your child's -- eligibility for aid, such as scholarships, grants, work study or college loans. Ideally, you want to go after the free money and reduce student loans, which have to be repaid.

The best way to do that: pay a great deal of attention to carefully completing the FAFSA.

Even though the 2011-12 school year FAFSA remains long and a bit complex to complete (the form has 106 questions plus sub-parts for a grand total of 136 questions), you needn't be overwhelmed by it.