Free FAFSA Guide
Follow these steps:
This step-by-step guide makes completing the FAFSA much easier. It explains what each question means and how the answers affect your eligibility for need-based financial aid.
From October 1 to June 30 of each year, you’ll notice that there are two versions of the FAFSA available online at FAFSA.ed.gov:
Be sure to select the correct year’s FAFSA so you don’t end up filing out the form twice!
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) is a form used to apply for financial aid from the federal student aid program which is offered by the U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid. However many state governments, and most colleges and universities use the information provided on the FAFSA to also award financial aid from their own programs.
The federal student aid programs offer accessibility to federal grants, federal loans, and federal work-study. All other aid offered through other sources (like your state or school) will vary, but may also include grant and loan opportunities.
We recommend that everyone who attends an institution which offers federal financial aid to complete the FAFSA. You don’t need to wait until you decide on which school you will be attending, your information can be passed on to multiple schools.
TIP: Even if you don’t believe you are eligible for financial aid, you should complete the FAFSA. It’s a myth that all financial aid is need-based.
You have three options to file the FAFSA:
An important date to remember: October 1.
The FAFSA should be filed as soon as possible on or after October 1 of the senior year in high school and each subsequent year in college. Each state uses information from the FAFSA to determine how to award state aid. State financial aid deadlines may not align with the federal deadline, so it is important to know the deadline for your state.
Most colleges and universities will require the student to re-apply for financial aid by completing the FAFSA every year they are enrolled in school. A student’s eligibility for financial aid can differ from year-to-year. Even small changes may have a big impact on the amount and types of financial aid the student will receive. Examples include changes in income, student assets, the number of children enrolled in college at the same time as well as changes to the financial aid formulas.
The earlier you file, the earlier you may find out about potential aid from colleges.
There is some eligibility criteria you will need to meet in order to be eligible for federal financial aid.
Note: If you do not meet this criteria, ask your school if they would still like you to complete the FAFSA.
To qualify for federal student aid, students must also:
If you have previously received federal student aid funds, there are requirements that must be met in order to be eligible to reapply for federal student aid. The following requirements apply:
The FAFSA application may seem overwhelming, but the U.S. Department of Education has been working to simplify it from year-to-year. We worked hard to break-down some of the steps and help guide you through the process.
Follow along with our tutorial to help you through the application!
With everything that you are managing on this college journey, you may not be aware that there are FREE RESOURCES available to provide help and guidance along the way.
If you are applying for federal financial aid and need help completing the FAFSA, you don’t need to go it alone. You can contact the U.S. Department of Education at 1-800-433-3243.
If you are having issues with your FAFSA® or questions about how to submit your information (or make corrections/changes), your financial aid office can be a great resource. If they are participating in the federal aid programs, they have completed required training, meaning they are prepared to help!
If your school requires other financial aid applications, like the CSS Profile®, the financial aid office is prepared to help you with that as well.
Set up an appointment with your office and write down some questions beforehand. You want to make sure you get all the answers you need to finish your aid applications.
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