The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is how students apply for grants and loans from the government. A FAFSA application are part of the federal student aid program under the United States Department of Education that most schools require to determine financial eligibility. Colleges and schools have financial aid advisors to help students learn how to apply for FAFSA, but the application is a simple process for most students and conveniently available online. Students can discover comprehensive information about FAFSA grants and loans as well as other financial assistance programs available in by downloading our free guide here. The application for federal student aid also helps determine eligibility for other school or program specific aid. For more information about the FAFSA application as well as how to submit FAFSA applications, please choose from the categories below:
- How to apply for FAFSA
- How do I fill out the FAFSA form?
- How to submit FAFSA applications
Learn How to Apply for FAFSA
For students wondering how to apply for FAFSA, there are two easy ways to submit an application. The application for federal student aid is available online for digital submission or to print out. A physical copy of the FAFSA application is typically accessible in the financial aid office of colleges and universities in the state. Regardless of where students get an application for federal student aid, there is no cost associated to obtaining nor submitting the form. It is important to submit the application as soon as possible, particularly before the financial aid deadlines.
Students can submit the FAFSA application online conveniently for that fastest turnaround for eligibility results. After completing the FAFSA application online, the applicant will receive a tentative award and qualification notification via email. By submitting an application for federal student aid through regular mail, the processing time extends between seven to 10 days, compared to the few days confirmation time for online submissions.
However, learning how to apply for FAFSA it is important to become familiar with the types of financial aid available. Federal student aid includes such types as grants, loans and work study programs. After completion of the FAFSA application, the applicant may be considered for federal student aid benefits as well as work study programs.
How do I fill out the FAFSA form?
Students wondering, “How do I fill out the FAFSA form?” should prepare to gather documents and information about themselves as well as their parents. The application for federal student aid requires general and financial information about parents of applicants younger than 25 years of age. Rather than delaying the process of how to apply for FAFSA, dependent students should request the documentation from parents beforehand. Since new college students are young adults, often with no income, their parents’ income and assets determine financial eligibility for educational grants and loans. If the applicant’s parents are divorced, then the student can elect to use only one parent’s income for verification. The types of documents that an applicant will need to complete the application for federal student aid include:
- Social Security Number or alien registration number (if not a citizen)
- Tax returns, bank statements and other income verification paperwork
- Federal Student Aid ID (to use as an electronic signature)
- Proof of residency in (driver’s license, utility bill or voters registration card)
Applicants can download our comprehensive guide to discover the documents needed when applying for government financial assistance. The application for federal student aid must be complete and accurate, including the full legal name of the applicant and any name changes that may have occurred. Leaving certain items blank or filling out the form incorrectly can lead to processing delays. Applicants can pause the online FAFSA application if they need to locate information and return to complete it later. Whereas some students elect to submit the application for federal student aid, adding updates after the fact. For example, if a student fills out the FAFSA application but the parents’ current tax information is not yet available, there is a place on the form to indicate this issue and submit with the agreement to update as information becomes available. Applicants with prepaid college plans will need to contact officials and list the value as an asset.
Discover How to Submit FAFSA Applications
Applicants can submit FAFSA applications electronically or through the mail. The electronic application for federal student aid will inform students of their potential award based on the data furnished. The online FAFSA application must accompany the applicant’s FSA ID, otherwise the application is unacceptable. Applying for a FSA ID prior to filling out the application for federal student aid is a good strategy since it can take a few days for assignment. Using the online process for the FAFSA application allows the student access to review and make changes to the account as information becomes available.
Students can also mail the application for federal student aid if the online application is not preferred. A mailed FAFSA application can take approximately seven to 10 days to process once received. Students must submit a new FAFSA application each year to apply for financial aid, as benefits are only for the upcoming school year for which they are applying.
It is vital for students to know the deadlines for FAFSA applications. There are three deadlines students need to keep in mind; the federal, state and college deadline. Students can start submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid after the federal open date in October of the year prior to the school year. Applicants can continue to submit applications online until the end of June, with addition weeks following for any corrections and updates. The federal deadline is now closes in June of the academic year, though this is always subject to change. State deadlines for FAFSA applications are earlier than the federal deadline. Likewise, each school has separate deadlines to apply for FAFSA that students must consider.