What is the FAFSA?
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as "FAFSA" is a form to be completed by current and prospective college students apply for aid to pay for their education.
How does FAFSA determine eligibility?
The application asks questions about a student and their household, family income, and family savings.
The federal government, your college, and some scholarship programs use the information on the FAFSA to see if you are eligible for various grants, scholarships, student loans, and work-study.
What do I need to complete my FAFSA?
According to the U.S. Department of Education, you need the following complete the FAFSA:
- Driver’s license; proof of residency
- Social security card
- Tax return from two years prior
- Bank statements
- Investment savings
If you count as a dependent student, then that means that your parents still provide you financial support. Dependent students must include the information above for themselves and their parents.
To find out whether you are an independent or dependent filer, read this document: When I Fill Out the FAFSA® Form…Am I Dependent or Independent?
When is the deadline to complete FAFSA?
If you plan to attend school in the fall, it's best to file the year before your intended start date. The FAFSA application opens on October 1. Submit your application as soon as you can.
Be sure to put all the schools that you are interested in on your application, even if you haven't received an acceptance. Most colleges have different priority filing deadlines, so check the deadline date with your prospective college. If you miss the deadline, you can still file as soon as possible but, be aware that most schools have a limited amount of money and those who file first could receive a higher chance in getting more financial aid.
Where can I file?
You can file online at FAFSA.ED.GOV
An important fact to know is that the application is entirely free. Unfortunately, there are some scam sites that will try to get you to pay to fill out the FAFSA.