Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

What Is FAFSA?

Standard 7: Paying for College

Chelsee Wilson, Lacy Pennington, Ann Newman | Published: November 18th, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th
  • Subject Subject Financial Literacy, Social Studies
  • Course Course Personal Financial Literacy
  • Time Frame Time Frame 120 minutes
  • Duration More 2-3 class periods


Students will learn about the FAFSA process and complete their own demo FAFSA application.

Essential Question(s)

What is FAFSA? In what ways does it benefit students? 



Students complete a Four Corners activity on financing a college education.


Students complete a FAFSA anticipation guide.


Students work on completing a FAFSA application.


Students complete a Two-Minute Paper on their FAFSA process.


Students complete an exit ticket activity to show their understanding and completion of the FAFSA process.


  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • Four Corners Posters (attached)

  • FAFSA Student Anticipation Guide (attached; one per student)

  • FAFSA Anticipation Guide Teacher Key (attached)

  • FAFSA How-To Guide (linked; one per student or group)

  • Sheet of paper

  • Pen/pencil


Use the attached Lesson Slides to guide the lesson. Begin by displaying the title slide on slide 2 and introduce the topic to students.

Display slide 3 and inform students that they will be participating in an activity called Four Corners. Ask students: What are some resources to help you pay for college? Around the room, using the attached Four Corners Posters, have College and Local Scholarships, Jobs, Oklahoma's Promise, and Student Loans placed in different locations. Ask students to go to the poster that they know the most about.

Display slide 4 and instruct students to answer each of the following questions on a sheet of paper with their group:

  • What does your category mean?

  • How might that look in terms of paying for college?

  • What are potential advantages of this category?

  • What are potential disadvantages of this category?

  • How helpful might this option be long terms?

Give each group an opportunity to share information about each topic and explain why each of these resources is helpful in paying for college.

Display slide 5 and share the lesson's essential questions: What is FAFSA? In what ways does it benefit students?

Display slide 6 and share the lesson's learning objective: Students will be able to identify ways to pay for college.


Transitions to slide 7 and inform students that they will complete the FAFSA Anticipation Guide. Pass out the attached FAFSA Student Anticipation Guide. Individually, students read and respond to each statement provided. Encourage students who do not know the correct answer to make an educated guess and agree or disagree with each statement.

Display slide 8 and inform students that they are participating in and activity called, Think-Pair-Share. With their partner, have students read through their anticipation guide and come to a decision on the best choice for each statement.

Pass out copies of the attached How-To Guide for High School Students and have student pairs read through to find the correct information for each statement. As they read through, they should record the answer along with the page number. Have pairs share correct answers in a whole-group discussion. To aid in discussion, see the attached FAFSA Anticipation Guide Teacher Key.

After the discussion, pass out a copy of the FAFSA Teacher Guide to all students so that students have a set of statements with the correct answers for home use in filling out FAFSA.


Transition to slide 9 and inform students they will use the Federal Student Aid Estimator. This website helps "forecast" their potential financial aid options for the college or university in which they are most interested.

Encourage students and their families to use the following websites as guides to completing the form:


Once students have completed their demo FAFSA application, display slide 10 and instruct students to complete a Two-Minute Paper over their results. This time limit can be adjusted to best suit students’ needs.

Students should address the following questions in their short paper:

  • What were the results?

  • Was your EFC lower or higher than expected?

  • Would your EFC cover the cost of tuition and fees of your choice schools?

  • What other resources could you use to help cover the cost of your attendance?

  • What will your next step be in finding those resources?


Display slide 11. Inform students that, to ensure they have completed the tasks and understand how to utilize FAFSA, they will complete an Exit Ticket.

Ask students to take a moment to respond to the following question on a sheet of paper or a sticky note: What is one way that you could potentially pay for college according to your FAFSA results?

If students have questions, refer to the linked document titled, “FAFSA: The How-To Guide for High School Students.”