Everything You Need to Know About the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)

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The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly known as the FAFSA®, is an application students fill out to be considered for federal financial aid. Filling out the FAFSA is the only way to apply for federal financial aid. However, states, colleges, and even scholarship providers may also use the FAFSA to determine eligibility for the financial aid they provide.

Looking for more FAFSA support? Wyatt is an easy-to-use chatbot that keeps you on track and answers your questions about the FAFSA via text message. Wyatt is free and available 24/7, and has helped more than 30,000 students like you complete the FAFSA and access financial aid. Sign up here!


Who should fill out the FAFSA?

If you need assistance paying for college and you’re eligible for federal financial aid, you should fill out the FAFSA. Federal financial aid is available for U.S. citizens and eligible noncitizens (like permanent residents and individuals who meet certain noncitizen criteria). The application is free, and help is available along the way. You should complete the FAFSA every year you plan to attend college. For more on student eligibility for financial aid, continue reading this article.

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When should I fill out the FAFSA?

The FAFSA application is available October 1 each year before the year you plan to attend college. The federal deadline for completing the FAFSA is June 30. However, many states and colleges have their own priority deadlines that may be much earlier. Complete your FAFSA as early as you can to ensure you don’t miss your chance to receive financial aid.

Some types of financial aid are limited. Colleges may award these funds on a first-come, first-served basis. Visit your college’s website to see what their deadlines are. Find your state’s deadline here.

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How do I fill out the FAFSA ?

Complete the FAFSA online by logging in with your Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID) at studentaid.gov on a computer or cell phone. An FSA ID is an account username and password for students and parents to access the FAFSA and to (electronically) sign it. If you haven’t created an FSA ID yet, read the information further on in this article .

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What information does the FAFSA require?

The FAFSA requires the following information from you and your parent(s) if you’re considered dependent.

  • General demographic information
  • High school and college information
  • Federal income tax returns, W-2s, and other records of money earned
  • Current bank statements
  • Records of untaxed income and investments

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Do I need my parent’s information to fill out the FAFSA?

Most students are considered dependent when completing the FAFSA, meaning that parental information is required. Your dependency status determines whose information you must report when you fill out the FAFSA. If you’re considered independent by the FAFSA, you won’t be required to submit parental information. For more information about dependency status, look here .

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How do I submit the FAFSA?

After filling out the FAFSA, you’ll be required to sign and submit the application using your FSA ID username and password. If parental information is required, they’ll also need to sign the FAFSA using their FSA ID or by printing and signing a signature page. The FAFSA will take a few days to process if signed electronically. Processing will take longer if you mail in a signature page. After the FAFSA processes, you’ll receive a Student Aid Report (SAR), which summarizes your application information. Review your SAR for accuracy. Note any special messages, as well as any actions you may need to take.

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What happens if I don’t complete the FAFSA?

If you don’t complete the FAFSA, you won’t be able to receive federal financial aid. You may also be ineligible for certain types of institutional and state aid. If you’re unable to complete the FAFSA due to missing information or difficulty with the form, contact your college financial aid office for additional help.

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Can undocumented students complete the FAFSA?

Undocumented students, including students with temporary protected status and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students, aren’t eligible for federal aid. You may be eligible for financial aid from your state, college, or a scholarship provider. This resource highlights which states offer financial aid to undocumented students. Reach out to the financial aid office at the colleges you’re considering. Explore alternatives to federal student aid. For additional information and some frequently asked questions, look here .

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How do I create an FSA ID?

In order to create an FSA ID at studentaid.gov , you’ll need:

  • Your social security number.
  • Your date of birth.
  • Your full legal name (written exactly as it appears on your social security card).
  • A mobile phone number and/or email address you have access to.

A social security number, mobile phone number, and email address can only be associated with one FSA ID. This means you can’t make multiple accounts for yourself, and if you share an email or phone number with someone, only one person can use that information to create an FSA ID.

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What happens after I submit the FAFSA?

Once you submit your FAFSA, you will receive your Student Aid Report within 3 days to 3 weeks of submitting. Review it to make sure everything is correct. The schools you listed will also receive your application. You will hear from them when they issue your award letter or if you're chosen for verification.

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What should I do if I’m having technical issues on the FAFSA website?

If you have technical issues with your application (pages freezing or not loading, application not submitting, account problems, etc.), please call the FSA helpline at 1-800-4FED-AID.

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Where can I receive help completing the FAFSA?

Wyatt is an easy-to-use chatbot that keeps you on track and answers your questions about the FAFSA via text message. Wyatt is free and available 24/7 and has helped more than 30,000 students like you complete the FAFSA and access financial aid. Sign up at here.

Get in touch with your college’s financial aid office for help with completing the FAFSA. You can also contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center by email, phone, or their live chat feature.

Completing the FAFSA is a crucial step to making college affordable and helping you be as successful as possible while in college. Visit Federal Student Aid’s website for further information.

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