Complete the FAFSA

Opens: December of Sophomore Year | Closes: February of Senior Year

About this Step

Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) is the most important step to pay for college. 

Students who verify they completed the FAFSA during their senior year will earn an entry into monthly BigFuture scholarship drawings for $500 and $40,000. Students have until the end of February of their senior year to verify that they completed this step. Keep in mind that states and colleges have separate deadlines for FAFSA completion.

The 2024-25 FAFSA form is available now for short periods of time for students attending college in the fall of 2024. The Department of Education is monitoring the site's performance and updating the form to provide you with a better experience. Start your FAFSA and get the latest updates here.

How to Qualify

  1. Take action to unlock financial aid:
    • Submit the FAFSA. Watch for your FAFSA Submission Summary by email or mail. It will be sent at the end of January 2024. 
    • Alternatively, submit your state’s financial aid form for your state. (Check here or talk to your counselor to see if your state has a state aid form you can submit.)
  2. Log in to BigFuture. Confirm your qualification for drawing on the dashboard.
    • Verify that you completed the FAFSA, submitted a state aid form, or are legally ineligible to submit both the FAFSA and a state aid form.
    • After verifying that any of these apply to you, you’ll be automatically entered into monthly drawings for $500 and $40,000 unless you opt out of participation.

Dates and Deadlines

Scholarships for $500 and $40,000 are awarded monthly until February of your senior year. Completing any step enters you in the drawings on the first day of every month. Drawings occur on the first day of every month. ​

Class of 2024 Deadline to complete this step: Thursday, February 29, 2024

Class of 2025 Deadline to complete this step: Friday, February 28, 2025

Class of 2026 Deadline to complete this step: Saturday, February 28, 2026

Increase Your Chances

Whenever students whose families earn less than $60,000 a year complete the FAFSA, they’ll earn an extra entry in monthly drawings and have double the chances at a scholarship. Half of all awards are reserved for students who meet the income criteria.

 

 

FAQ

Who's eligible for scholarships from BigFuture?

Students in the class of 2024, 2025, and 2026 are now eligible for BigFuture Scholarships. They must: have a College Board account and attend public or private high school or are enrolled in a home school in the United States, Puerto Rico, or any other U.S. territories, and U.S. citizens and residents attending Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools. When students complete one or more qualifying steps on BigFuture, they'll be automatically entered into monthly drawings for $500 or $40,000 until February of their senior year. Students can opt out of scholarship drawings here. ​

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What are the deadlines to complete each step to qualify for BigFuture Scholarships?

Class of 2024

  • Start Your College List: Friday, June 30, 2023
  • Strengthen Your College List: Tuesday, October 31, 2023
  • Start Your Career List: Thursday, February 29, 2024
  • Start Your Scholarship List: Thursday, February 29, 2024
  • Apply to Colleges: Thursday, February 29, 2024
  • Complete the FAFSA: Thursday, February 29, 2024

Class of 2025

  • Start Your College List: Sunday, June 30, 2024
  • Strengthen Your College List: Thursday, October 31, 2024
  • Start Your Career List: Friday, February 28, 2025
  • Start Your Scholarship List: Friday, February 28, 2025
  • Apply to Colleges: Friday, February 28, 2025
  • Complete the FAFSA: Friday, February 28, 2025

Class of 2026

  • Start Your College List: Monday, June 30, 2025
  • Strengthen Your College List: Friday, October 31, 2025
  • Start Your Career List: Saturday, February 28, 2026
  • Start Your Scholarship List: Saturday, February 28, 2026
  • Apply to Colleges: Saturday, February 28, 2026
  • Complete the FAFSA: Saturday, February 28, 2026

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Are there family income requirements to earn scholarships?

No. These scholarships are open to students regardless of their family income. At least half of all the scholarships will be designated for students whose families earn less than $60,000 per year.

A student may be automatically identified as eligible to increase their chances if they received a fee waiver from College Board for one of our assessments or if they attend a high school where 75% or more of the student body qualifies for free- or reduced-priced lunch. If students haven't been automatically identified as qualifying for extra scholarship entries but feel they qualify because their family earns less than $60,000 per year or they earned fee waivers, they'll be able to indicate they meet these criteria by updating their College Board account. Students who select this option may be asked to verify family income by using a secure document system if they earn a scholarship in a monthly drawing.

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Do students have to take a PSAT-related test or SAT to participate in BigFuture Scholarships?

No. The program is open to all students, even those who don't take a College Board assessment. None of the six steps on BigFuture require sitting for an SAT assessment.

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Do students have to participate online via the BigFuture website?

There's a mail-in entry option for students who can't participate online. See the Official Rules for more information. We encourage students to use BigFuture to track their progress and stay up to date on the latest information regarding this program.

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Can I dispute my activity progress on BigFuture? What do I do if I don’t think my activity on BigFuture is accurate?

It may take up to 24 hours for your activity to be updated in the progress tracker. After that time, if you still feel that your information isn't up to date, please contact Customer Service at 844-298-3554.

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How will I know when I’ve earned an entry?

After you confirm FAFSA completion on BigFuture, you’ll be automatically entered in monthly drawings unless you opt out of participation. You’ll see an update on your dashboard on BigFuture when you earn entries for $500 and $40,000. You’ll also get an email to confirm your drawing entries.

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Should I complete my FAFSA before I enter this scholarship?

Yes. You should complete and submit your FAFSA first and then confirm your FAFSA submission on BigFuture. If you’re ineligible to submit the FAFSA, check to see if your state has a state aid form you can submit. If your state does offer an aid form, you should first submit it. Then confirm your submission on BigFuture. If you’re legally ineligible to submit the FAFSA or a state aid form, you can still earn an entry for drawings on BigFuture.

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What does it mean to be ineligible to complete the FAFSA or to receive federal student aid?

The FAFSA has requirements for citizenship/permanent resident status. You need a Social Security number (SSN) to complete the FAFSA. If you’re ineligible to complete the FAFSA, you can still earn an entry for scholarship drawings. Check to see if your state has a state aid form that you can submit even if you’re ineligible for the FAFSA so you can access state and/or university aid.

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Can I complete the FAFSA if my parents don’t have Social Security numbers (SSNs)?

Yes. Your parents’ citizenship status doesn’t affect your eligibility for federal student aid. You can find more details information on the Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid page.

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My parent/guardian doesn’t think we should fill out the FAFSA because of our family income. What should I do?

One of the biggest myths about financial aid is that you can’t (or shouldn’t) submit the FAFSA if your parents have a high income. Everyone, regardless of their parents’ income, should submit the FAFSA. The FAFSA unlocks more than federal grants and aid. Many states, aid programs, and colleges require that you fill out the FAFSA to be eligible for other forms of aid including work-study and loans. The requirement to earn an entry for this step is to submit the FAFSA, not to demonstrate financial need.

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