About the Scholarship
Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) is the most important step to pay for college. All federal financial aid programs, many state aid programs, and some aid from individual colleges require students to complete the FAFSA. Most students need financial aid to help pay for college. Students from families of all incomes should complete the FAFSA, beginning October 1.
It pays to complete the FAFSA early – literally. Students who verify they completed the FAFSA during their senior year will earn entries in monthly drawings for $500 and $40,000 scholarships. Many states and colleges have early deadlines and award aid on a first-come, first-served basis. Plus, the earlier you complete the FAFSA, the more chances you have at a scholarship from BigFuture.
How to Qualify
- Take action to unlock financial aid:
- 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.
Tips for Completing the FAFSA
- What's the FAFSA?
The FAFSA is the free federal form that students complete to apply for financial aid for education after high school, including federal grants, work-study, and loans. Many states and colleges also use the information you provide on the FAFSA to determine your eligibility for state and institutional aid. For this reason, it’s a critical step toward receiving money for your college education, including for universities, community colleges, and vocational or technical schools.
- What do I need to fill out the FAFSA?
To complete the FAFSA, you need:
- Your Social Security number.
- Your Alien Registration number (if you aren’t a U.S. citizen).
- Your federal income tax returns, W-2s, and other records of money earned. (Note: You may be able to transfer your federal tax return information into your FAFSA form using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.)
- Bank statements and records of investments (if applicable).
- Records of untaxed income (if applicable).
- An FSA ID and Save Key so you can save your progress and electronically sign the FAFSA.
- To get started, go to fafsa.gov or download the myStudentAid app on your phone.
- When should I complete the FAFSA?
It's recommended that you fill out the FAFSA as soon as you can because many states and colleges have early deadlines for completing their financial aid applications. Check the Federal Student Aid website to find your state’s deadlines.
- What happens after I complete the FAFSA?
If you submitted your FAFSA online, the U.S. Department of Education will process your application within three to five days. You’ll then receive a copy of your Student Aid Report (SAR). Review this summary of the information you provided on the FAFSA and make sure the information is complete and accurate. Your SAR will be sent to the colleges you listed on your FAFSA and will be used to determine your eligibility for federal and nonfederal student aid. If you’re selected for a scholarship from BigFuture and you submitted the FAFSA or a state aid form, you’ll be asked to provide documentation that confirms your submission (such as the FAFSA confirmation email you received). If you’re legally ineligible to complete the FAFSA or your state aid form, you won't be required to provide documentation.
- Where can I get help filling out the FAFSA?
Students can get support by visiting the Office of Federal Student Aid’s help page, or or by calling their hotline at 1-800-4FED-AID. Learn more about how to sign up for assistance from Wyatt℠ at getfafsahelp.org.
Increase Your Chances
As soon as you confirm you complete the FAFSA, you’ll be entered into every monthly drawing for $500 and $40,000.
- More $500 scholarships for building a list are awarded in October, November, and December. When you complete the FAFSA early, you have a chance at more scholarships.
- You’ll get one entry in the monthly drawings for $40,000 scholarships. Complete additional steps on BigFuture to earn more entries.
- 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.
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. For $500 scholarships, we select 150 winners from the class of 2024 and 150 from the class of 2025 every month. For $40,000 scholarships, we select a total of two monthly (one from class of 2024 and another from class of 2025). Drawings occur on the first day of every month.
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.
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.
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.
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. In fact, the FAFSA form doesn’t even ask about your parents’ status. Because your parents’ citizenship doesn’t affect your ability to complete the FAFSA form, they don’t need SSNs. If your parents don’t have SSNs, they must enter 000-00-0000 when the FAFSA form asks for your parents’ SSNs. If your parents don’t have SSNs, they won’t be able to create FSA IDs and can’t sign your FAFSA form electronically. You’ll have to print out the signature page from the online FAFSA form so your parents can sign it and mail it to the address indicated.
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. Most families need financial aid to help pay for college. The only way to access aid is through the FAFSA. 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 drawing entries is to submit the FAFSA, not necessarily to demonstrate financial need