the FAFSA - applying for financial aid

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The first and most important step in the financial aid process is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which determines your eligibility for any kind of federal financial aid. Every college-bound student should submit the FAFSA, even if you think your parent's income is too high to qualify for aid. Income is only one of the criteria on which financial aid is based. Although not every student will qualify for grants or need-based scholarships (gift aid), every student is eligible for assistance from the federal student loan programs (self-help aid) at participating schools. Even if you plan on getting scholarships, you never know when there might be more grant or loan money that could cover incidental qualifying expenses, such as room and board, textbooks, computers, etc.


Applying online is quick, easy, and FREE at

Remember to submit the FAFSA as soon as possible after October 1st of the year prior to your college start date, so you can meet deadlines for school, state, and private aid. You will need to obtain an FSA ID for security purposes and apply online at (now mobile-friendly!) or on the MyStudentAid Mobile App. The income-based portions of your financial aid package can fluctuate each year depending on your family's financial status and your year in school, so you must reapply for financial aid each year.

Note: Some schools require other financial forms, in addition to the FAFSA, such as institution-specific forms or the CSS Profile. Check with the schools you want to attend to see if they require financial forms in addition to the FAFSA.

When submitting your FAFSA, report your income information from the tax year two years prior to the academic year.

FAFSA TIP: To save time and increase the accuracy of your FAFSA information, use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to transfer tax return data directly from the Internal Revenue Service.


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the FAFSA - applying for financial aid

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