FAFSA - Applying for Student Aid

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a form that must be completed in order to receive most types of federal student financial assistance. Many states and schools also use the FAFSA as part of their application process for non-federal aid.

About the FAFSA - The FAFSA is a comprehensive form that requires you to provide extensive information about your family's income and income taxes from the previous year, assets, family size, the number of family members attending college and much more.

When to Submit the FAFSA - Students should submit the FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1 of the year for which they are requesting aid.  Also, if students apply before January 1 or do not include a Social Security number, their application will not be processed.

How to Submit the FAFSA - Students can complete and submit the FAFSA online, or they can complete and mail a paper form. There is no charge to submit a FAFSA.  The method you use to submit the FAFSA does not affect your funding amount.

Steps to Complete a FAFSA - Follow these basic steps and you can complete your FAFSA online in as little as an hour or two.

  • Step 1 – Locate your Social Security number.  If you submit the FAFSA without an SSN, your application will not be processed.
  • Step 2 – Request a PIN.  If you plan to submit your FAFSA online, you (and one of your parents) can request a PIN from the U.S. Department of Education. With a PIN, you can apply and “sign” the FAFSA online, check the status of your submitted FAFSA and make corrections.
  • Step 3 – Research state and college deadlines.  Colleges and states have deadlines that tend to be earlier than the federal deadline (some are as early as February), and may require an additional application in addition to the FAFSA.  Play it safe.  If you're interested in specific colleges, make sure you know their deadlines and requirements.  
  • Step 4- Use the FAFSA on the Web Worksheet.  This tool will help you gather information needed for the official FAFSA.  Worksheets are available from your high school guidance office, public libraries and online at www.fafsa.ed.gov.
  • Step 5 – Complete the FAFSA onlineComplete your FAFSA online at www.fafsa.ed.gov.  Apply as soon as you can after January 1 because funding may be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.
If the information you submit on the FAFSA is inaccurate, the U.S. Department of Education will return your form.  This will delay your application and could impact your financial aid award.