The FAFSA Is Open: 3 Steps to Take Now

Qualify for BigFuture Scholarships

The 2024-25 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) is open. This is your chance to obtain federal student aid to help pay for your college or postsecondary education.

You may be asking yourself, “Where do I start? Do I need my parents or guardians to complete the application? Is there an application deadline? Do I need to send anything to my selected schools when I complete the application?”

Take a breath. We have three key steps to help you feel more prepared to complete the application and get answers to questions about what comes next.

1. Do This Before Completing the FAFSA. 

Before you apply, there are a few actions to take and materials to have handy when you complete the application.

Create FSA ID.

Before you start your FAFSA, you’ll need to create an FSA ID, which is a username and password used to complete the FAFSA, take out loans, and log in to all Federal Student Aid websites. Anyone who contributes to your FAFSA (usually parents, guardians, or spouses) will also need to create an FSA ID.

Collect Documents.

Review a list of documents you need to get started.

Prepare a List of Schools

You’ll be asked to provide the names of colleges, universities, or career schools you’d like to share your FAFSA information with.

2. Complete the FAFSA Application. 

Filling out the FAFSA as early as possible ensures you’ll be considered for all types of federal financial aid. Keep in mind that you should check application requirements and filing deadlines posted on financial aid websites for your selected schools. This will do more than help you qualify for federal financial aid. It will also allow you to be eligible for any scholarships provided by your selected schools.

Be prepared to provide consent and approve sharing your and your contributors’ tax information. Consenting to allow the IRS to share your tax information with the FAFSA is required to be eligible for federal financial aid. This is required even if you or your parent(s) or guardian(s) didn’t file taxes, filed taxes outside of the Unites States, or don’t have an SSN. If you or your parent(s) or guardian(s) don’t provide consent, you won’t be eligible for federal financial aid. For assistance filling out your FAFSA, go to Federal Student Aid’s Filling Out the FAFSA Form.

3. Stay Connected.

Congrats on submitting your FAFSA application! You’ll receive confirmation online and via email. It may take several weeks for your selected schools to receive your FAFSA information after you submit. 

The best way to stay informed on your chosen school’s process is by checking your student portal or student account for updates. If you’ve been admitted, keep an eye on your email to be sure you don't miss any important notifications from schools.

Visit Federal Student Aid for more information after you submit your application. 

Bonus: Earn an Entry for BigFuture Scholarships.

Completing the FAFSA will connect you to federal financial aid. But that’s not all. If you’re a senior, it can earn you an entry into monthly drawings to win a $500 or $40,000 scholarship from BigFuture.

BigFuture rewards students for taking steps to plan for life after high school, including completing the FAFSA. Scholarships are awarded monthly until February of your senior year. For more information on eligibility, review the Complete the FAFSA qualification or other Steps to Qualify.