The FAFSA form (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is used to determine your eligibility to receive need-based funds from the US Department of Education's Federal Student Aid Program. Colleges may make decisions on scholarships, grants, and loans from the FAFSA data as well.
The Office of Federal Student Aid provides more than $120 billion in federal grants, loans , and work-study funds each year to students paying for college or career schools.
Guide for Completing the FREE Application for Federal Student Aid
What will you and your parent(s) need?
FAFSA is the FREE Application for Federal Student Aid and universal application for federal financial aid at all eligible colleges and universities. It is available to complete online in English or Spanish at www.studentaid.gov.
Where to start?
Students and families must complete the FAFSA as early as possible every year the student plans to attend a higher education institution. One FAFSA per student attending college per year. October 1 of the year before the student will attend school is the earliest date the FAFSA may be completed. For example, if you plan to attend college in the Fall of 2022, the earliest date your family can complete a FAFSA is October 1, 2021. One parent and the student must apply for an FSA-ID to electronically sign the FAFSA form at www.fsaid.ed.gov. You will need to complete this BEFORE you begin to complete the FAFSA. You will use the same username and password every year. As the name suggests, no fee is charged to file a FAFSA. Students apply online at www.studentaid.gov.
BEWARE: Scam websites charge families to submit your FAFSA information. Don’t be scammed into paying! It is FREE!
To be eligible for federal and state financial aid, student’s must:
- Be a U.S. Citizen or Eligible Non-Citizen
- Have a valid Social Security Number
- Parents don’t need an SSN for their children to apply for aid (they do need one to create their FSA-ID)
- Comply with Selective Service registration if male, aged 18-25
- Have a high school diploma, GED, or home-school diploma - Be enrolled at least half time and be enrolled as a regular student working toward a degree or certificate in an eligible program at a school that participates in the federal aid programs
- Not have a drug conviction for an offense that occurred while you were receiving federal student aid such as grants, loans, or work study
- Not owe a refund on a federal grant or be in default on a federal student loan.
- Complete all requirements requested by the Department of Education
- Social Security Number
- Driver’s License, if you have one
- 2020 W-2 forms and other earning records for the Federal Income Tax Returns for the 2020 tax year
- Untaxed Income Records – Social Security, Child Support, Worker’s Compensation, Non-educational Veteran’s Benefits, or Welfare Records
- Current Bank Statements
- Business Records (only if the business has greater than 100 employees)
- Farm records only if the farm is not your primary
- Current investment records such as stocks, bonds, and rental property
- Your alien registration card, if you are not a U.S. Citizen. If you filed your 2020 taxes, you can link them using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) to your FAFSA.
Otherwise, you will have to estimate your income and then update your tax information on the FAFSA at
www.studentaid.gov when you have the updated information.
What is financial aid? Financial aid is money that is given, borrowed, or earned to pay for college. This money comes in the form of grants, scholarships, work study jobs, and student loans. Most of it is awarded based on financial need but some comes in the form of institutional scholarships or work-study based on merit. Financial aid makes it possible for students to access post-secondary education regardless of their ability to pay.
Unique Family Situations
Students must include at least one biological or adoptive parent’s information on the FAFSA unless they are 24 years of age or older, a veteran, ward of the court, married, in graduate school, supporting dependents by providing more than 50% of their support, have both parents deceased, foster youth, or unaccompanied homeless youth.
If a students’ parents have divorced or separated, they should answer only the questions about the parent that they live with most during the last 12 months. If the student did not live with one parent more than the other, answer only the questions about the parent who provided most of their financial support during the last 12 months. If this parent is remarried, the step-parent’s financial information must be included on the FAFSA.