Qualifying for Financial Aid
The first stop for anybody looking for financial aid in the United States is the federal government's FAFSA Web site. Completing the FAFSA is a requirement for receiving any federal aid, along with most state and college aid as well. The entire application can be completed online. You can apply for a personal identification number at the FAFSA Web site that allows you to electronically sign in when you're putting together your application.
If you're applying for financial aid to go to graduate school, as in the case of an MBA program, you're automatically considered independent and don't have to submit financial information about your parents, regardless of your age or marital status [source: Federal Student Aid].
You must be a citizen of the United States or an eligible non-citizen, meaning you must have permanent residency, be a refugee or have obtained conditional residency. If you're married, you'll be asked to provide financial information about your spouse. If you're a male age 25 or younger, you must be registered for selective service. If you're not, you can do so through the FAFSA.
Your federal student aid eligibility may be affected by previous drug convictions. But even if you're not eligible, completing the FAFSA application may qualify you for other types of student aid.
Roughly four weeks after you complete the FAFSA, your should receive a Student Aid Report. Review this and make any necessary changes, then return it. The schools you list on your report will also receive copies. You will receive an award letter from the school you hope to attend that outlines any financial aid they can offer, based on your eligibility. Finally, you'll be required to sign a promissory note locking in that financial aid [source: Florida Department of Education].
After those steps, you could still have a gap in your financial aid package that you need to fill -- particularly one related to business school. Grants, scholarships, private loans and work-study programs can help make up the difference. Nonprofit organizations and for-profit companies alike offer free search tools to identify forms of aid for which you may qualify, such as FinAid! and CollegeScholarships.org.