To be eligible for financial aid from the federal government, your state and your college, you will have to file the FAFSA — the Free Application for Federal Student Aid — by the April 15 deadline. Some colleges require filing the FAFSA sooner to be eligible to receive any school-based aid.

The FAFSA is the gold standard for determining your eligibility for financial aid — money to help you pay for college. The easiest way to file the FAFSA is online at the FAFSA website. The website also provides a printer-friendly PDF if you prefer to mail your FAFSA.

After filing your FAFSA, your college will be able to tell you which scholarships and grants you could receive as well as how much money you can borrow in federal loans such as the Parent PLUS loan.

Anyone who will be in college the following fall should file the FAFSA, including high school seniors. You should file the FAFSA even if you’re not sure if you will enroll, or if you are currently in college. You’ll never know — or receive — your financial aid package if you don’t file the FAFSA. And if you fail to file, you could lose scholarships and other financial aid you currently have.

You have to file the FAFSA no later than April 15. The form is available October 1. Check with your college or colleges you hope to attend to make sure they don’t have an earlier deadline. Some colleges also have additional financial aid paperwork, so make sure you aren’t missing anything important.

Certain scholarships may also require you to file your FAFSA at different times. Students applying for the Mitch Daniels Early Graduation Scholarship must file the FAFSA their junior year of high school.

It’s important to remember that all students must file the FAFSA annually while in college. And, students in 21st Century Scholars must file, even if they’re planning to not enroll in college in the fall.

If you are under 23, you will need your parents’ or guardians’ information as well as yours. The information you will need for the FAFSA includes:

  • Your Federal Student Aid ID (the FSA ID is a username and password you can create on the FAFSA website)
  • Your Social Security number (found on a Social Security card)
  • Your driver’s license number (if you have a driver’s license)
  • Your and/or your parents’/guardians’ most recent federal tax returns (IRS forms 1040, 1040EZ or 1040A)
  • Records of money earned, including W-2 forms and recent bank statements
  • Alien registration numbers or permanent residence cards, if you or your parents/guardians are not U.S. citizens

You should include any college that you think you might attend in the fall. If you don’t include any college, your FAFSA will be rejected for state financial aid. Remember, you may not be accepted at your top choice, so it’s important to give yourself options. You should always apply for at least one school that you’re confident will accept you.

You will need each college’s federal school code. You can find codes at the FAFSA website.

The easiest way to file the FAFSA is online at the FAFSA website. The website also provides a printer-friendly PDF if you prefer to mail your FAFSA. Once your FAFSA has been submitted, be sure to return to the FAFSA website to make any corrections or updates. Edits and updates must be made before a student can receive state financial aid.


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