If you’re thinking about college and postsecondary education after high school, you’re probably wondering how you’re going to afford it. Financial aid is a critical part of the college planning process for many families and can help you open doors to your future.
When it comes to securing financial aid, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) is the key to opening the doors of your future. FAFSA gives you access to federal grants, work-study opportunities, federal loans, and numerous state scholarships.
And you might have heard, the FAFSA is changing due to a comprehensive overhaul of the federal student aid system.
What does this mean for high school seniors preparing for college? The FAFSA won’t be opening this October like it usually does. The application for 2024-25 will launch in December 2023. With the application opening later this year, you can prepare accordingly and not stress about the process.
Create Your FSA ID
There is one action you can take now before the application opens, and it’ll save you time later: create your FSA ID. An FSA ID consists of a username and password you create to gain access to the U.S. Department of Education’s online systems. An FSA ID is your legal signature when completing the FAFSA. Creating an FSA ID is the first step in your FAFSA journey, and with these four steps, your information will be automatically added to your application in December.
- Go to fafsa.gov or studentaid.gov/fsa-id/create-account/launch.
- Provide your Social Security number, full name, and date of birth.
- Create a username and password, including identifying a security question so you can retrieve your account information if you forget it.
- Provide contact information—either your personal mobile phone number or email address.
It’s also likely that your parent or guardian will need to provide information on the FAFSA. If you are a dependent student, encourage your parent to create a FSA ID too.
The FAFSA changes are intended to make a few things easier for you.
Tips to Help You Prepare for Filing for FAFSA
- Save the information you used to create your FSA ID. You’ll need your FSA ID later when accessing the FAFSA application.
- During the application process, if you and your parent(s) filed a 2022 federal tax return, you will be asked to consent to share IRS tax data with the U.S. Department of Education. This direct data exchange process reduces the steps you and your family will need to take in completing the FAFSA. Ahead of the December FAFSA opening, gather tax returns and bank statements for easy reference.
- Have your school list prepared. You’ll be asked to add any college you’re considering. The schools you list on your FAFSA will automatically receive your FAFSA results.
- Be aware of financial aid and admission deadlines for specific schools on your list, and any additional application requirements on the schools’ websites.