Why should I fill out the FAFSA® form?

If you don’t fill out the FAFSA Form you could be missing out on a lot of financial aid! We’ve heard a number of reasons students think they shouldn’t complete the FAFSA form. Here are a few:

  • “I (or my parents) make too much money, so I won’t qualify for aid.”
  • “Only students with good grades get financial aid.”
  • “The FAFSA form is too hard to fill out.”
  • “I’m too old to qualify for financial aid.”

If you think any of these statements apply to you, then you should read Myths About Financial Aid. The reality is, EVERYONE who’s getting ready to go to college or career school should fill out the FAFSA form!  
Try This Resource
Completing the FAFSA®–Provides an overview of the FAFSA form and the application process with a walk-through of each application question.

When do I fill out the FAFSA® form?

The FAFSA form has been available since Oct. 1

There are different FAFSA deadlines for different programs:

Aid Program Deadline Information
Federal student aid  

However, there are a few federal student aid programs that have limited funds, so be sure to apply as soon as you can once the FAFSA form is available for the year you’ll be attending school.

State student aid You can find state deadlines at fafsa.gov or on the PDF FAFSA form. Note that several states have financial aid programs with limited funds and therefore have a deadline of “as soon as possible (after the FAFSA form becomes available).”
College or career school aid Check the school’s website or contact its financial aid office. School deadlines are usually early in the year (often in February or March, although some are even earlier now that the FAFSA form is available in October).
Other financial aid Some programs other than government or school aid require that you file the FAFSA form. For instance, you can’t get certain private scholarships unless you’re eligible for a Federal Pell Grant—and you can’t find out whether you’re eligible for a Pell Grant unless you file a FAFSA form. If the private scholarship’s application deadline is in early to mid-January, you’ll need to submit your FAFSA form before that deadline.

As you can see, it’s a good idea to file the FAFSA form as soon as it’s available so you don’t miss out on anything.

You have to fill out the FAFSA® form every year you’re in school in order to stay eligible for federal student aid.

Can I get an early estimate of my aid?

You sure can! If you’re not ready to file a FAFSA form, you can use FAFSA4caster to estimate your federal student aid. 

How do I fill out the FAFSA® form?

There are several ways to file:

  • Online at fafsa.gov is faster and easier than using paper.
  • If you need a printed FAFSA form, you can
  • Ask the financial aid office at your college or career school if you can file it there. Some schools will use special software to submit your FAFSA form for you.

Need some tips on filling out the FAFSA form? We’ve got them!
Try This Resource
2018–19 FAFSA on the Web Worksheet–Provides a preview of the questions students and parents may be asked while completing the FAFSA form.

What happens after I fill out the FAFSA® form?

Applying isn’t the last step; your FAFSA form has to be processed, and then you get an Expected Family Contribution, which your college or career school uses to figure out how much aid you can get. Find out more about what happens after you fill out the FAFSA form, including how aid is calculated and when and how your aid will be paid out.