To apply for federal financial aid, you must complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, more commonly known as the FAFSA. The FAFSA form may be filed online at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/. You are encouraged to apply online and if you choose to do so, you should also request a Personal Identification Number (PIN) at http://www.pin.ed.gov/. This PIN will serve as your electronic signature as well as your access code to various Department of Education Web sites. When you request a PIN, in most cases, you will receive it instantly and be able to sign your FAFSA immediately.
The FAFSA is also available in a paper format and may be obtained by calling 1-800-4FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) or by downloading the application at http://federalstudentaid.ed.gov/fafsa/fafsa_options.html.
Keep these tips in mind when completing the form.
- Read the instructions carefully. Avoid common mistakes on financial aid forms—including missing deadlines and submitting incomplete information.
- Apply early! The FAFSA is available after Jan. 1. The earlier you get started in your financial aid search, the better your chances of finding the money you need. You may use estimated income information when completing the FAFSA. If the numbers on your and/or your parents’ tax returns end up being different from what you expected, you may always update your FAFSA later.
- The FAFSA must be completed each academic year.
- Most importantly-complete a FAFSA even if you don't think you qualify for financial aid, and even if you didn't qualify last year. Having a FAFSA on record with your school will help the financial aid office consider your eligibility for all types of assistance, even programs you may not realize you qualify for.