The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) must be completed to apply for federal and state financial aid. Many colleges and universities, especially public institutions, require the FAFSA. The FAFSA must be submitted every year to obtain financial aid for college.
How to Obtain the FAFSA
The FAFSA is available online from the Department of Education. Versions in PDF and paper versions are available. Students and parents can prepare for filing the FAFSA by getting organized prior to starting. A comprehensive resource to help students get started and best prepare for filling out the form is Fastweb’s FAFSA Checklist. It is advantageous to review all the requirements in advance in order to provide the necessary information for the submission. When students are ready to begin, the initial step is to create their FSA ID and follow all instructions. Complete the FAFSA process once you begin as soon as you can. Incomplete FAFSA applications, those started and not submitted will be deleted after 45 days of inactivity.
Videos that highlight the main actions for filing the FAFSA have been created by The Department of Education. Watch all the videos here: Federal Student Aid on You Tube.
FAFSA Filing Options
IMPORTANT FAFSA NOTIFICATION
Financial aid applications, such as the FAFSA, should be submitted as soon as possible after the date they open each year. The FAFSA now permits the use of prior-prior tax year (PPY) tax information which allows for students and their families to fill out the FAFSA form as soon as it’s open. It’s important to keep in mind that to meet the deadlines for most states you should submit the form no later than March 1st, with February 15th being ideal.
Some states want more students to fill out the FAFSA to qualify for aid and are making completing the FAFSA mandatory in order to graduate from high school. Do not wait until income tax returns are filed with the IRS. You should either estimate your income – you’ll have a chance to correct errors later – or complete your tax returns early.
FAFSA resources and tools for students, parents and educators
Financial Aid Guides
- Step by Step Guide to the Federal Financial Aid Process – Department of Education presentation
- Student Aid Reference Desk – Direct links to important financial aid regulations, legislation, research, and other key resources.
- Knowledge Center (formerly IFAP) – Library of information articles and resources for various federal student aid topics.
- Spanish resources from the Federal Student Aid office (Vea y descargue recursos de la oficina de Ayuda Federal para Estudiantes)
Finaid’s Financial Aid Estimation Form may be used to calculate your EFC and an estimate of your eligibility for financial aid. Beginning with the 2024-25 FAFSA filing period, the U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) will release new methodology that provides an estimate of the new Student Aid Index (SAI) and revised federal Pell Grant eligibility calculation. Finaid’s SAI calculator will be added to the calculator group so students, parents and educators can used for estimation.
Current FAFSA News
- Launch of the 2024-25 FAFSA form Federal Student Aid what you need to know announcement.
- FSA Announces Date Range, Road Map for 2024-25 FAFSA Launch
- What is the FAFSA? And Why You Should Care
- U.S. Department of Education Releases New Data Highlighting How the Simplified, Streamlined, and Redesigned Better FAFSA®