The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is an online form designed as the first step if a student is seeking government aid to cover the cost of college. It is known best as the FAFSA. Colleges all around the United States use the application to determine whether a student is eligible for federal student aid, which includes Pell Grants, student loans, and work-study. It can also be a prerequisite or a gateway for state funding, college support, and private scholarships.
Before you get started, please make sure you have the following information:
- Your Social Security Number
- Social Security Numbers of One or Both Parents
- “Alien” Registration or Permanent Resident Cards (if you or your parents are not citizens)
- Your Parents’ tax records (IRS 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ and employer W2 forms) if you are dependent on one or both
- Copy of your parents’ foreign tax return, if they live outside the United States or in Puerto Rico
- Your tax records, if you filed returns in the past
- Records of untaxed income in your family (e.g. Social Security and other public or veteran benefits)
List of Colleges in Which You Plan on Applying
- Your FSA ID is a username and password that gives you access to Federal Student Aid’s online systems and allows you to electronically sign your FAFSA.
- You can create your FSA ID here: https://fsaid.ed.gov/npas/index.htm
How does the FAFSA work? It is not as complicated as you think! High school seniors, college students and families fill out the FAFSA online at https://fafsa.ed.gov or by using the FAFSA’s new mobile app myStudentAid. The application asks you to answer questions on your family’s finances and which colleges you would like to attend.
The FAFSA uses the information you provide to estimate how much your family can contribute to the cost of college. This estimated amount is called the “Expected Family Contribution” or EFC. The EFC is determined by the following factors: income, assets, household size, number of students in college and the age of the older parent. The EFC is the same amount regardless of the cost of each of your college choices, but the financial packages you receive from each college will vary. Keep in mind that a Pell Grant eligible EFC ranges from $0-5328.
Upon completion of your FAFSA, the federal government will determine your family’s ability to pay for college and will send you a Student Aid Report (SAR) with your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The FAFSA becomes available on October 1st until June 30th of each year. The application must also be completed annually. Most importantly, a good deal of financial aid is “first come, first served”. Make sure you submit your FAFSA and state aid applications as soon as possible.
Here are some additional resources to guide you in your FAFSA completion process:
We wish you the best of luck!