Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

What is Federal Student Aid ?

The largest provider of student financial aid in the United States is Federal Student Aid (FSA), an office of the U.S. Department of Education. Financial aid for students is offered by the federal government in the form of grants, loans, and work-study funds. The FSA was the first Performance-Based Organization (PBO) to be established in the US government. Federal Student Aid provides more than $125 billion in work-study, federal grants and loans for students attending community colleges, career schools, colleges or universities.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the essential application utilized for all federal student aid distribution programs as well as many state, regional, and private student aid programs, was developed, distributed, and processed by Federal Student Aid.

The main goal of federal student aid is to make sure that everyone who qualifies receives financial aid from the government in the form of grants, loans, and work-study opportunities for post-secondary education. The team at Federal Student Aid processes over 22 million FAFSAs annually. Federal Student Assistance is also in charge of maintaining the portfolio of outstanding federal student loans and implementing the financial aid guidelines mandated by the Higher Education Act of 1965 and the U.S. Department of Education.

What is the FAFSA ?

The official application for federal financial aid to cover college costs is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. To be eligible for federal financial aid, students and frequently, their parents must complete the free FAFSA form. Many states, certain colleges, and universities also use it when deciding who gets financial help. According to the data gathered from the application, the FAFSA specifically decides who will receive aid in the form of loans, scholarships, and grants.

If you want to be eligible for federal student aid, you must complete an FAFSA. Starting on October 1 of the year prior to the award year and ending on June 30 of the award year, each FAFSA application period lasts for 19 months.

Key Facts of Free Application for Federal Student Aid

  • Your financial situation and personal data are gathered for the FAFSA form in order to assess your financial need and, consequently, your eligibility for aid.
  • Information from the FAFSA is also used by states, certain colleges and institutions, and private scholarship programs to determine financial aid decisions.
  • First-come, first-served basis is frequently the rule, with students applying in June typically only being eligible for loans.
  • You must submit the FAFSA every year you are enrolled in school if you want to be considered for financial aid because your FAFSA information is only applicable to one academic year.
  • Make sure all of your paperwork, such as your Social Security number, income papers, and bank records, are ready.
  • Students have three options for submitting their FAFSA applications, online, print and send, or request a form to fill out and mail.
  • Each academic year, you must file an FAFSA or FAFSA renewal to be eligible for federal student aid.

How Does the FAFSA Work ? 

Your eligibility for need-based and non-need-based aid is determined using the personal and financial data you provide on the FAFSA. The DOE will process your application when you submit the form and provide you a SAR. Your FAFSA data will also be forwarded by the DOE to the colleges you want to attend. Following that, your schools will let you know how much aid you are qualified for.

Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is one of the crucial criteria your schools consider when determining your financial aid. Based on the data you provide on the FAFSA, your EFC is an index number used to assess your eligibility for help. Schools calculate how much financial aid to provide by deducting your EFC from their cost of attendance.

Your financial aid offer will typically arrive at the same time as your letter of acceptance to college. You could include the following types of financial aid in your offer:

1) Grants :
Grants, often known as scholarships, are non-repayable financial aid options for students who demonstrate exceptional financial need. Pell grants are the most popular federal education grants available today.

2) Federal Student Loans : 
These loans often have quite low fixed rates and are eligible for a number of repayment and forgiveness options. Direct subsidized, direct unsubsidized, graduate PLUS, and parent PLUS loans are among the loans that are offered.

3) Work-study : 
A federal program that provides students in need with work on or off campus. A work-study offer is not a job guarantee, you must search for and apply for work-study positions in order to be considered for a position.

Your state and any private scholarship organisations you list on the form may also utilize this information to offer grants and scholarships. Your school will use your FAFSA to compile your financial aid package.

Who is Qualifies for Federal Student Aid ?

To be eligible for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) :
  • A student must have financial need.
  • Are a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen.
  • Have a Social Security number.
  • Be enrolled in a diploma or certificate program at a college or university.
  • Have or will obtain a high school diploma or other recognized equivalent.
  • In college or a career school, maintain satisfactory academic progress.
Other conditions can apply. For more information, speak with the financial aid department at your college or career school.

In certain situations, you wouldn't be qualified for financial aid. You wouldn't be eligible, for instance, if you intended to use the money for something other than your education or if you were already in arrears on a federal student loan. Additionally, to continue to be eligible for funding, you must make adequate academic progress at your current level of education.

You should file the FAFSA regardless of whether you believe you have a financial need because there is no income restriction for it. It's worth submitting this form to see what you get because the calculations for financial necessity are intricate and rely on numerous variables.

What is the Income Limit for FAFSA ?

There is no income limit to submitting a FAFSA. Instead, aspects including the year of enrollment and family size are taken into account in addition to demonstrating financial need. However, the income cap is $29,000 for the academic year 2023–2024 to qualify for an automatic expected family contribution (EFC) of zero.

What is the Deadline for FAFSA ?

You can submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid as early as Oct. 1 for the following school year. At the end of the academic year for which you are applying, on June 30, you must submit your FAFSA.

Make an effort to submit your FAFSA as soon as you can. On occasion, the FAFSA application process may be conducted on a first-come, first-served basis. Frequently, June applicants are only qualified for loans. There may be deadlines in some states and programs that are sooner than the federal deadline. Find out when your state's FAFSA submission deadline is.

The free application for federal student aid is now open for applicants in 2023–2024. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is now available for the academic year 2023–2024 as of October 1, 2022. Both current students and incoming students must submit their FAFSA forms until June 30, 2024.

How Much is the Federal Student Aid ?

Your eligibility is based on a number of factors, including your Expected Family Contribution, the year you have been enrolled, your enrollment status, and the cost of attending the school you plan to attend. Your college or career school's financial aid office will decide how much financial aid you are qualified for.
  • The first step in the financial aid process is determining your cost of attendance (COA) at that institution.
  • Then. they consider your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
  • To calculate your financial need and the amount of need-based aid you are eligible for, they subtract your EFC from your COA.
  • The school subtracts any financial aid you have already received from your cost of attendance to calculate how much non-need-based aid you are eligible for.

How to Calculate Federal Student Aid ?

By applying the following formula, your college or career school can first determines whether you have a financial need :

Financial Need = Cost of Attendance x Expected Family Contribution

If you have a financial need and meet other eligibility requirements, you may be eligible for need-based funding. More need-based aid than what you actually need is not permitted. You cannot receive more than $4,000 in need-based help, for example, if your COA is $16,000 and your EFC is $12,000, in this case, your financial need is $4,000.

The need-based federal student aid programs are as follows :
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)
  • Direct Subsidized Loan
  • Federal Pell Grant
  • Federal Work-Study

What Documents Need to Fill out the FAFSA ?

You will need the following to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) :
  • The Social Security number you have
  • The Alien Registration Number (if you are not a U.S. citizen)
  • Your W-2s, federal income tax returns, and other evidence of earnings. (Note: Using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, you might be able to transfer information from your federal tax return into your FAFSA.)
  • Bank statements and investment records (if applicable)
  • Records of untaxed income  (if applicable)
  • FSA ID to sign electronically.
  • You will also need most of the information listed above for your parent if you are a dependent student.

How to Fill Out the FAFSA ?

On the Federal Student Aid website, with the myStudentAid mobile app or by printing it out and mailing it, you can complete the FAFSA online. It is advised that you create your FSA ID before starting to work on this form.

You can electronically sign your FAFSA using your FSA ID. One of your parents will need to create their own FSA ID if you are a dependent student. When submitting your application through the myStudentAid app, you must have an FSA ID even though you can complete your FAFSA online or by mail without one.

After completing this action, you can begin completing the form. You will respond to a series of inquiries regarding your financial and personal information. The Office of Federal Student Aid makes a copy of the printed FAFSA form available online so that you may see what questions are on it. You don't need to take any further action as long as the form indicates that it has been processed correctly.

Note :
The FAFSA must be completed each year you are enrolled in school. You will submit a renewal FAFSA after your first year, which may be a shorter procedure because it will be pre-filled with some of the data you gave the previous year.

Steps to Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid

You're prepared to begin filling out the FAFSA once you've gathered all your paperwork and data. You can submit the form by mail or online:

Online :
If you haven't already, create an FSA ID and sign in to the Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) website to submit an application online (applicants could previous apply through the myStudentAid mobile app, but this was retired on June 30, 2022).

On paper :
Call 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) to request a printout of the 2023–24 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, then, fill it out and submit it to Federal Student Aid Programs, P.O. Box 7654, London, KY 40742-7654.

Although the processes may occasionally be in a different order, both the paper version and the online version will need the same information.

1) Add your Personal Information :
You'll have to fill out a form with your name, Social Security number, and birth date. Along with providing contact details like your phone number and email address, you will also be asked a series of questions regarding your citizenship and current educational status.

2) Choose Colleges :
The FAFSA codes for any colleges you are currently attending or plan to attend must then be provided. This part instructs the Federal Student Aid Office to provide these universities with information from your FAFSA and federal student aid. To find the codes for your present or potential schools, use the Federal School Code Search tool.

3) Determine Whether You Are Dependent :
According to federal student aid regulations, you must respond to a series of questions to establish whether you are an independent or dependent student. Dependent students must fill out the FAFSA with information about their parents.

4) Report Parent Information :
The FAFSA will ask your parent or parents for demographic and financial details if you meet the requirements to be considered a dependent student. You can finish this section, or you can give a parent your save key so they can finish it themselves.

5) Enter Your Financial Details :
You'll be asked to give specifics regarding your financial situation. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) can be used to automatically fill in this information from your tax return when you need to disclose income from the tax year that is indicated on the FAFSA. Your investments, savings and checking account balances, as well as any benefits like disability or workers' compensation, will also be inquired about.

4) Submit the FAFSA :
You will sign the form at the end. If you're submitting the FAFSA online, use your FSA ID to sign, or if you're submitting it on paper, use your handwriting. Your parent must sign the FAFSA if you are a dependent student. After that, you can send the form in or submit it online. When submitting the form online, be patient while the confirmation page loads.

Note :
The FAFSA form is filled out for free. Furthermore, a website is not the Federal Student Aid website if it charges you to complete the FAFSA on it.

After Apply for Federal Student Aid

You can monitor the progress of your FAFSA by logging into your Federal Student Aid account once you've filed it. Your application will typically be processed in three to five days.

For any updates regarding your FAFSA, check your email. If the phrases "missing signatures" or "action required" appear on your form, check it and make any necessary updates or corrections. After mailing a paper FAFSA, you should be able to verify its status seven to ten days later.

You will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) three days to three weeks after submitting the FAFSA. The universities indicated on your application as well as state educational authorities will receive your FAFSA information.

Your college will process your FAFSA application and utilize the data to assess if you qualify for various types of student aid. You will then receive a financial aid award letter outlining all the student aid options available to you.

How to Check Status of FAFSA Form ?

To check the status of your Free Application for Federal Student Aid form, go to the online FAFSA home page and click "Log In" to log in. From there, you may check the status of your FAFSA form. 

The "My FAFSA" page, which appears when you log in and if you have already begun or finished an FAFSA form, allows you to view the status of your application.

Contact the financial aid office at your college to inquire about the status of your federal student aid distribution.

Note :
You can monitor the status of your application after they process it, if you submitted a paper FAFSA form. (roughly 7–10 days from the date mailed).

How to Renew the FAFSA ?

To file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid renewal, applicants should follow the steps below :

1) Gather the required documents :
FAFSA renewal requires current financial and tax data from the "previous prior year." Dependent filers include information from their own and their parents' bank statements, investment records, and taxed and untaxed income records, if appropriate. Those who file separately include the same information as well as, if they are married, the information of their spouse. A student must fulfill eligibility requirements in order to be deemed autonomous.

2) Log-In to using your FSA ID :
Parents and first-time applicants can generate an FSA ID by providing their Social Security number, full name, and birth date. Every time a student files an FAFSA form, they must utilize this ID. If a student or parent cannot recall their FSA ID, they have the option to choose "forgot username" or "forgot password" when submitting a renewal. Additionally, candidates can sign on using a phone number or email address connected to the ID rather than a username.

3) Examine pre-filled data and update financial information :
Students should choose the application for the following academic year after logging in. Standard data including the applicant's name, address, and Social Security number from the previous academic year will already be filled out on the FAFSA. The required financial and tax information can then be included, and students and parents can update the form.

4) Sign and submit the FAFSA renewal :
The FSA ID can be used to sign the FAFSA before it is deemed finished by the student and, if the student is filing as a dependent, by the parent. Applicants will get a Student Aid Report (SAR), which is a summary of the data supplied in the form, days or weeks after submission. The Department of Education processes internet submissions within five days, whereas print applications take seven to ten days to be processed before being sent to the applicant's school.

FAFSA Contact

Toll Free Numbers :
  • 1-800-433-3243
  • 1-800-621-3115 (Defaulted Loans)
  • 1-800-557-7392 (Loan Consolidation)

  • 1-800-730-8913
  • 1-877-825-9923 (Defaulted Loans)
  • 1-800-557-7395 (Loan Consolidation)

E-mail :

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

When is the FAFSA due?
The FAFSA deadline is June 30, 2024, for the school year 2023–2024.

What makes you ineligible for financial aid?
A student's eligibility for funding may be impacted by incarceration, misdemeanors, arrests, and more serious crimes. Smaller infractions won't necessarily bar a student from receiving aid, but they will restrict the programs they may enroll in and the amount of aid they can get. Larger infractions may result in a student's complete expulsion.

What GPA must you have to qualify for financial aid?
A student must be achieving Satisfactory Academic Progress in order to be eligible for federal student aid and college financial aid (SAP). This often involves completing enough classes to advance toward a degree and maintaining a 2.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale (i.e., at least a C average).

When will I receive information of my student aid, if I filled out an FAFSA form?
Your FAFSA form's colleges will utilize the data you submitted to determine if you qualify for federal student aid. Following completion of the institution's application requirements and once the college has determined your eligibility, you will get a student aid offer. This offer will include information on your eligibility for grants, scholarships, work-study money, and loans, as well as the costs of attending the college for a full academic year.
Student assistance offers typically arrive from institutions at the same time as letters of admission. For every college, the timing is different, though. When you'll get your student aid offer is something your college can let you know.

What six items are required to complete the FAFSA?
You must have your federal tax returns, W-2s, and records of untaxed income on hand in order to complete the FAFSA. You'll also need an FSA ID so you can sign documents electronically, along with any bank statements and investment information. You will require your Social Security number if you are a citizen of the US. You'll need your Alien Registration Number if you're not a citizen of the United States.

Can I submit my FAFSA without my parents?
You can legally still submit the FAFSA if you are under 24 years old and your parents refuse to complete it or give you the necessary information. You won't get an expected family contribution and your access to financial aid will be very restricted unless there are specific circumstances. If your school's financial aid office approves it, an unsubsidized Direct Loan will be the only federal aid you are qualified for. If you fled an abusive home, don't have a method to reach your legal parents, they're in jail, or you're between the ages of 21 and 23, you might have a special situation.

Why You Need Submit the FAFSA?
Any student who wishes to apply for federal student aid must first complete the FAFSA. Your eligibility for need-based federal student aid, such as Pell Grants, work-study, and subsidised student loans, is determined using the information you supply on the FAFSA. Additionally, it is essential if you want to qualify for non-need-based help like unsubsidized student loans.

Will I need an FSA ID to complete the FAFSA form and What is an FSA ID?
Students and parents can authenticate themselves electronically to access websites for Federal Student Aid by using their FSA IDs (account login and password). Although you are not required to have an FSA ID in order to fill out and submit an FAFSA form, having one is the quickest way to process your application. Additionally, it's the only way to access, update, or prefill an online FAFSA form with data from a previous year's FAFSA form. You can create an FSA ID if you don't already have one.

What if I forget my username or password for my FSA ID?
Select Forgot Username if you have an FSA ID but cannot recall your username. You can enter your email address or cell phone number in place of your username if you validated them when you created your account.

How do I correct my FAFSA application?
Select "Log In" on the front page to access the online FAFSA form and log in if you need to make changes to your Free Application for Federal Student Aid form. Select "Make Corrections" after that.

When correcting your FAFSA application, you can:
  • Change any FAFSA field aside from your Social Security number, 
  • Add or remove colleges from your application, 
  • Update your email or mailing address.
You can add or remove a school from your FAFSA form after it has been processed by taking the following actions :
  • Access
  • Choose "Log In" from the menu, then enter your FSA ID.
  • Choose your position.
  • Select "Add/Change Schools" on the "My FAFSA" page before choosing continue.
  • Establish a save key.
  • Change the information you have.
  • Submit the data you have.