Each year there are billions of dollars in federal financial aid available from the U.S. Department of Education in the form of grants, loans and work-study funds. Current or prospective college students who may be eligible for aid and should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) between October 1 of the prior year and June 30 of the current year.
The basic eligibility requirements are:
Here are a few other tips for completing the FAFSA:
Create an FSA ID.Create a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID before getting started. Parents of a dependent student will need to create one, too. While this only takes a few minutes on the applicant’s end, it can take a few days for the Social Security Administration to verify the information to move forward.
Apply electronically. You can certainly print off the application and do it by hand, but applying online or using the myStudentAid mobile app is easier and gets processed much faster. The online method also allows you to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to transfer all the necessary IRS information straight to your application, which reduces errors and simplifies the process.
Be prepared. The application process is lengthy and must be done meticulously. Be prepared ahead of time by having all necessary documents and information on-hand.
Avoid errors. Take your time. Making mistakes on the application can delay or nullify it. Don’t leave too many blank answers and always triple check your social security and driver’s license numbers. You can also access the application’s help section for more tips.
Apply early. The earlier you apply, the greater your chances are of receiving aid and the greater the amount you’re likely to receive.
Even if you’re unsure of eligibility, we encourage all households to apply. Any students who are unsure of whether they might qualify for aid should contact the college counselor at their current high school or the financial aid offices at the colleges they’re interested in for assistance. You can also estimate eligibility by entering some basic information into the program’s FSFSA4caster tool.
Questions? We’re here to help!