Federal & State Money
Federal Aid - Your first step in the financial aid process
Federal student aid is the largest source of aid in America, providing billions in grants, work-study, and federal loans. This aid can be used at four-year colleges or universities, community colleges, and career schools. Whether you’re enrolling in college for the first time or returning to school, you should apply for federal student aid.
What is the FAFSA?
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the financial aid application form used to apply for federal and state student grants, work-study, and loans. Although it may seem complex, there are many free resources to help you navigate the application process. Read more at the federal student aid site.
How to apply?
The FAFSA comes in two versions - electronic and paper. The electronic version is available online at FAFSA on the Web. If you need a paper copy, call 800-4-FED-AID (433-3243) or check with your school’s guidance counselor.
FAFSA on the Web
You can complete, submit and track your application online. This is the easiest way to apply for federal aid. The online program even checks your data, so there’s less chance of making an error. Filing the FAFSA online is quick and easy.
Get a PIN
Obtain a U.S. Department of Education personal identification number (PIN) by filling out the brief application at www.pin.ed.gov. You can get your PIN immediately by e-mail or have it mailed to you. You can still use FAFSA on the Web without a PIN; you just have to print out and mail in a signature page.
Need FREE help with the FAFSA?
- Use the online chat at www.fafsa.ed.gov/contact.htm
- Call the Dept of education’s free customer service line at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243).
- Ask your school counselor.
- Talk to the financial aid office at the college, university you plan to attend.
When should I apply?
January 1, of the year you intend to go to college, is the first day you can file the FAFSA, though college, state and private aid deadlines vary. You should aim to file as close to this date as possible; remember that many financial aid dollars are awarded on a first come, first served basis. Also note that colleges may have priority financial aid deadlines - be sure to keep track of those dates. Look up my college deadlines.
What happens after I apply?
Your FAFSA is processed and the results are sent electronically to the schools you listed on your application, and you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR).
Remember that you must complete the FAFSA every year, even once you’re enrolled in college, in order to apply for financial aid.
What is the IRS Data Retrieval Tool?
The IRS Data Retrieval Tool allows you to access much of your or your parents IRS tax return information that is needed to complete the FAFSA. You may link to the IRS and transfer the tax information directly into the FAFSA. This functionality is available to eligible applicants and is available in both English and Spanish.
Why should I use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool?
It’s the easiest way to provide your tax data and the best way of ensuring that your FAFSA has accurate tax information.
The Student Aid Report
This form contains the data you entered on the FAFSA. The Department of Education will send it to you either by e-mail (three to five days) or postal mail (two to three weeks). Review the SAR carefully for errors (the form highlights items that may need attention) and follow directions for making and submitting corrections. Submit corrections promptly to avoid long delays in processing your application. Make sure to keep a copy of the SAR for your records. Read More on how to submit updates to the SAR.
Financial aid deadlines and forms vary by college or university. Get the details so you don't miss out!
Deadlines and forms vary from state to state. Get the details here so you don't miss out!