FAFSA on the Web

Filing the FAFSA 2016-2017 Edition Cover PaperbackThe Ultimate Guide to the FAFSA

Download our free PDF to maximize your eligibility for financial aid.

Get my ebook now 

FAFSA on the Web (FOTW) is an online version of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It is available at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Students and parents should each obtain a PIN for signing the FOTW at www.pin.ed.gov.

More than 20 million FAFSAs are submitted using the FOTW each year, 98 percent of the total number of FAFSAs filed.

Benefits of Using FAFSA on the Web

Before starting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), students and their families should gather some personal paperwork, tax forms and other financial documentation. A key benefit of using FAFSA on the Web is that the processing time is significantly reduced. Applicants who use FAFSA on the Web, provide a valid email address and sign the form with a PIN will get a Student Aid Report (SAR) in 3-5 days, a week or two quicker than filing the paper or PDF version of the FAFSA.

The online FAFSA has built-in edit checks to catch common errors, yielding a more accurate determination of eligibility for need-based financial aid. There are also fewer questions to answer, as FAFSA on the Web has intelligent skip-logic that omits redundant and irrelevant questions. For example, unmarried students will not be asked questions about a spouse.

Applicants can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to transfer information from their federal income tax returns for completing or updating the FAFSA. Using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool may reduce the likelihood that the student’s FAFSA will be selected for verification.

Other benefits include:

  • FOTW displays built-in, context-sensitive help for most of the questions on the FAFSA.
  • In many cases, drop-down boxes are provided so the family can choose from a selection of responses.
  • Students may list up to ten colleges on FOTW, compared with only four colleges on the paper or PDF versions of the FAFSA.

As soon as the FAFSA on the Web is submitted, a Confirmation Page can be printed to instantly verify that the application has been submitted. This page will contain a Confirmation Stamp showing the date and time that the FAFSA was successfully submitted. The confirmation stamp can be used to prove that the FAFSA was submitted by state and school deadlines.