The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, otherwise known as FAFSA, is the first and most important part of your college financial aid strategy.
Even if you are not sure about your college plans or think you won’t qualify, all seniors should file the FAFSA online between October 1 and April 15 to qualify for state and federal financial aid for the next academic year. Remember, you’ll have to file every year for the next year in order to keep receiving financial aid.
Complete the application as soon as possible to maximize opportunities with colleges that might have early deadlines.
Filing at FAFSA.gov is free and usually takes less than 30 minutes. To get started, create a Federal Student Aid identification number (FSA ID) at FSAID.ed.gov, then gather the information you’ll need:
- Driver’s license number, if you have one
- Your Social Security number
- Your academic information, such as GPA, test scores, and diploma type
- Parent and student untaxed information (child support, interest income, veteran benefits)
- Asset information (investments, savings and checking account balances) and business or farm records, if applicable
- Your parent’s federal tax forms (1040EX, 1040A or 1040 and/or W2s) and your own tax forms, if you file taxes.
Your Financial Aid Forecast
All seniors should complete the FAFSA, but there is help for juniors as well. Use FAFSA4caster to plan ahead at fafsa.gov. Enter basic information and the College Cost Worksheet will estimate amounts of student aid and savings to help finance your education.