Niche College Scholarship
Updated: January 23, 2024

Free Application for Federal Student Aid

FAFSA

A Better 2024-25 FAFSA Form

The FAFSA form is available for short periods of time while we monitor site performance and update the form to provide you with a better experience. Learn more about the 2024–25 FAFSA form. Need to access last year's form? Start or Edit a 2023–24 FAFSA Form

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Check FAFSA® Deadlines for the State You Live in

Some states and colleges use information from the FAFSA form to determine your eligibility for their grants, scholarships, and loans. Check your state’s deadlines here!

Missing a state deadline does not impact your eligibility for federal student aid, so fill out your FAFSA form even if your state deadline has passed.

Who should complete the FAFSA® form?

Any student, regardless of income, who wants to be considered for federal, state, and school financial aid programs. This includes grants, scholarships, work-study funds, and loans.

How long will it take?

It takes most people less than one hour to fill out the FAFSA form, including gathering any personal documents and financial information needed to complete it.

What do I need?

What is the FAFSA® form?

Colleges and career schools use the FAFSA form to determine how much financial aid you're eligible to receive, which could include grants, scholarships, work-study funds, and loans. You must apply for aid every year, but with the right information in hand, it's easy.

In our short video, learn what the FAFSA form is, what to expect when filling it out, who should help you, and more.

Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form can be a straightforward and easy process. Below are some tips to help you along the way.

Creating a StudentAid.gov Account

We strongly recommend you create your StudentAid.gov account before starting your FAFSA form. When you create your account, be careful to enter your name and Social Security number (SSN) exactly as they appear on your Social Security card.

2024–25 FAFSA® Form

On the 2024–25 FAFSA form, every contributor—anyone (you, your spouse, a biological or adoptive parent, or your parent's spouse) who's required to provide information on the FAFSA form—needs a StudentAid.gov account before accessing and completing their section of the online form. Contributors can access their StudentAid.gov account by using their FSA ID (account username and password).

Note: Contributors without an SSN can create a StudentAid.gov account to fill out their portion of your 2024–25 FAFSA form online.

To start the online 2024–25 FAFSA form, select “Start New Form.” You’ll be taken to the “Log In” page to enter your account username and password. After logging in, you’ll be given the option to select your applicable role to fill out the FAFSA form: “Student” or “Parent.” You (the student) should select “Student.” If a parent wants to start their dependent child’s FAFSA form, they should select the “Parent” option.

2023–24 FAFSA® Form

You and your parent (if you’re considered a dependent student) can get a StudentAid.gov account either before or while filling out the online 2023–24 FAFSA form. While you can get your StudentAid.gov account as you’re completing the 2023–24 FAFSA form online, getting it ahead of time and using it to fill out the FAFSA form cuts down on errors and delays.

If you start your 2023–24 FAFSA form and indicate that you are the student, you will be given the option to enter your account username and password or to enter your “identifiers” (your name, date of birth, and SSN).

If you log in with your username and password, certain information (including your name, SSN, and date of birth) will be automatically loaded into your application. Also, you won’t have to provide your username and password again to sign your FAFSA form electronically or to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool if you’re eligible.

The student is the one applying for financial aid, so be sure it’s the student entering their username and password in the "I am a student and want to access the 2023–24 FAFSA form" section. Do not start the FAFSA form by supplying the parent’s username and password in the student role.

Note: If your parent doesn’t have an SSN, your parent can’t use a StudentAid.gov account to sign your 2023–24 FAFSA form (even if they created one for the 2024–25 FAFSA form). This means you’ll have to select the option to print a signature page when you get to the end of your online 2023–24 FAFSA form.

Gathering the Documents Needed To Apply

2024–25 FAFSA® Form

You might need the following information or documents as you fill out the 2024–25 FAFSA form:

Keep these records! You may need them again. Do not mail these supporting records to us.

2023–24 FAFSA® Form

You might need the following information or documents as you fill out the 2023–24 FAFSA application:

Keep these records! You may need them again. Do not mail these supporting records to us.

One thing you don’t need for the FAFSA® form is money! The FAFSA form is FREE, so if a website asks you to pay to fill it out, you’re not dealing with the official FAFSA site. Remember, this is a government application, so it’s on a .gov website.

Getting Help

If you need help filling out the FAFSA form, use these free tools:

Starting Your FAFSA® Form and Providing Your Basic Personal Information

The 2024–25 and 2023–24 FAFSA forms are available now. We encourage you to fill out the applicable form as soon as possible on or after the FAFSA launches to meet FAFSA federal, state, and school deadlines.

FAFSA® Filing Options

You may choose any of these methods to file a FAFSA form:

  • Log in at fafsa.gov to apply online
  • Complete a FAFSA PDF (note: you must print out and mail the FAFSA PDF for processing)
  • Request a print-out of the FAFSA PDF by calling us at 1-800-433-3243; then fill out the form and mail it for processing

If you are starting the 2024–25 FAFSA form for the first time on fafsa.gov, select “Start New Form” and enter your account username and password to access the FAFSA form.

If you are starting the 2023–24 application for the first time on fafsa.gov, select “Start or Edit a 2023–24 FAFSA Form.” Your name and SSN must match those on your Social Security card. Near the beginning of the FAFSA form, you’ll create a “save key,” a temporary password that you’ll use if you start your FAFSA form, save it without finishing it, then want to open it again later to finish it.

If you are applying for a summer session, contact the financial aid office at your college or career/trade school to find out which school year you should select when you complete your FAFSA form.

Listing Colleges and/or Career Schools

While completing the FAFSA form, you must list at least one school to receive your information. The schools you list will use your FAFSA information to determine the types and amounts of aid you may receive. Use the 2024–25 School Search or 2023–24 Federal School Code Search to find the colleges or career/trade schools you’re interested in including on your FAFSA form.

For federal student aid purposes, the order of schools for your college list does not matter. However, to be considered for state aid, some states require you to list schools in a particular order (for instance, you might need to list a state school first). Find out whether your state has a requirement for the order in which you list schools on your FAFSA form.

Your 2024–25 school list can have up to 20 schools online or up to 10 schools on a FAFSA PDF. Your 2023–24 school list can have up to 10 schools online or up to four schools on a FAFSA PDF. (You can add or delete schools on your FAFSA form later.) Schools you list on the application will automatically receive your FAFSA results electronically.

Note: Schools will not be able to see which other schools you listed on your FAFSA form.

You should add any school that you plan on applying to, or that you have applied to, even if you haven’t been accepted yet. In most cases, once a school accepts you, they will then work on developing your aid offer.

Determining Your Dependency Status

The FAFSA form asks a series of questions that determine whether you are a dependent or independent student for purposes of applying for federal student aid. If you are a dependent student, you must report parent information, as well as your own information, on your application. If you’re curious, you can find out now whether you’re a dependent student.

Reporting Parents’ Information

If you’re a dependent student, you’ll need to report parent information on your FAFSA form. Visit our page on reporting parent information to find out who counts as your parent, what to do if you don’t live with your parents, and what to do if you don’t have access to your parents’ financial information.

Try These Resources

Is My Parent A Contributor When I Fill Out My 2024–25 FAFSA® Form? graphic — Helps dependent students determine which parent's information to include in the 2024–25 FAFSA form.

Who Is My Parent When I Fill Out the 2023–24 FAFSA® Form? graphic - Helps dependent students determine which parent's information to include in the 2023–24 FAFSA form.

Reporting Spouse’s Information

If you are married (and not separated) and filed taxes jointly with your spouse, then you’ll report your spouse’s information on the 2024–25 FAFSA form, but they will not be identified as a contributor. But if you’re married (and not separated) and didn’t file taxes jointly with your current spouse, your spouse will be considered a contributor on your 2024–25 FAFSA form.

Providing Financial Information

The FAFSA form asks for financial information, including information from tax forms and balances of savings and checking accounts.

Note: If your or your family’s financial situation has changed significantly from what is reflected on your federal income tax return (for example, if you’ve lost a job or otherwise experienced a drop in income), you may be eligible to have your financial aid adjusted. Complete the FAFSA questions as instructed on the application (including the transfer of federal tax return and income information), submit your FAFSA form, then contact the school you plan to attend to discuss how your current financial situation has changed. Note that the school's decision is final and cannot be appealed to the U.S. Department of Education.

What to Do If Your Parents’ (or Your) Marital Status Has Changed Since Taxes Were Filed

Here are some tips for this type of situation using the example of the 2024–25 FAFSA form:

The FAFSA help text covers all these situations in more detail as you’re filling out the application.

Automatically Transferring Your Tax Information

2024–25 FAFSA® Form

The Financial Aid Direct Data Exchange, replacing the IRS Data Retrieval Tool starting with the 2024–25 FAFSA form, will transfer contributors' federal tax information from the IRS directly into your FAFSA form.

All contributors must provide consent and approval to

NOTE: Even if contributors don't have an SSN, didn't file taxes, or filed taxes outside of the U.S., they will still need to provide consent and approval.

IMPORTANT: If a required contributor doesn't provide consent and approval to have their federal tax information transferred into the FAFSA form, you (the student) will not be eligible for federal student aid—even if the contributor manually enters tax information into the FAFSA form.

To ensure the information is secure, the federal tax information won't display on the FAFSA site or the FAFSA Submission Summary.

2023–24 FAFSA® Form

The IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) automatically transfers tax information into the 2023–24 FAFSA form. Be sure to consider this option if it’s offered to you. (If you requested an extension on filing your taxes and didn’t file until September or later, find out when your tax return information will likely be available using the IRS DRT.)

Here’s how the IRS DRT process works, assuming your tax information is available:

  1. The IRS DRT takes you to the IRS website, where you’ll need to provide your name and other information exactly as you provided it on your tax return. Some information will be prepopulated from your FAFSA form.
  2. At the IRS site, you’ll see a page that indicates that your tax information is available. (For security and privacy protections, you won’t see the actual information.) You can choose to import your information into the FAFSA form, or you can cancel your request and return to the FAFSA site.
  3. If you choose to import your information into the FAFSA form, you’ll find that on the FAFSA site, instead of your tax information being displayed, you’ll see “Transferred from the IRS” in the appropriate fields for data security purposes. You won’t be able to make changes to those answers.

Using the IRS DRT saves you time and effort:

  • You don’t have to find your tax records or any tax documents.
  • You don’t have to worry about making mistakes entering your tax information on your 2023–24 FAFSA® form.
  • You may not need to provide an IRS tax transcript or a signed copy of your income tax return if you’re selected for verification.

Can I change the tax return information that I transfer into the 2023–24 FAFSA® form via the IRS DRT?

No. Information you transfer via the IRS DRT can’t be changed. Remember, the information transferred is coming from your filed tax return, so it shouldn’t need to be changed. If your financial situation has changed or you filed an IRS Form 1040X amended return, contact your financial aid office at the college or career school you plan to attend to discuss whether it would be appropriate for the school to adjust the information on your FAFSA form.

If I’ve transferred my tax return information into the 2023–24 FAFSA® form via the IRS DRT, and then decide I want to enter the information manually instead, can I clear the information that was transferred via the DRT?

We strongly discourage clearing the information. For the 2023–24 FAFSA form, the IRS DRT is a fast and accurate way to input your tax return information into the FAFSA form. Additionally, using the IRS DRT to enter your tax information into the FAFSA form may reduce the amount of paperwork you need to provide to your school later.

If, despite this, you still want to clear the information transferred via the IRS DRT and enter your tax information manually—and you haven’t submitted the application or correction yet—you can select the “Reset FAFSA Form” button at the top of the page. Just know that by doing so, the entire application or correction will be cleared, and you will have to start the entire application or correction over again.

If I enter my tax information manually, will I be able to see it?

Yes. Tax return information that’s entered manually on the 2023–24 FAFSA form will be visible on fafsa.gov and on your Student Aid Report.

Signing and Submitting the FAFSA® Form

2024–25 FAFSA® Form

After you complete your required section of the FAFSA form online, you’ll acknowledge the terms and conditions of the form and electronically sign your section. You can then submit your section of the FAFSA form. However, your FAFSA form won’t be considered complete until all required contributors provide their information on the FAFSA form, give their consent and approval to transfer federal tax information into the form, and provide their signatures.

After you and your parent (and/or any other required contributor) sign and submit the FAFSA form, the form will be considered complete and will be submitted for processing.

If you submit the FAFSA form, you’ll see a confirmation page that displays your completion date, data release number, and next steps. You’ll also see your estimated Student Aid Index (a number used by college and career/trade schools to determine your eligibility for federal student aid), estimated Federal Pell Grant eligibility, and information about other federal student aid for which you may be eligible. This confirmation page is emailed automatically to you for your records.

Note: The Student Aid Index on the confirmation page is only an estimate. The official Student Aid Index will appear on the FAFSA Submission Summary.

2023–24 FAFSA® Form

Before your 2023–24 FAFSA form can be processed, you’ll need to sign and submit the application. Here are some tips as you finish your FAFSA form:

Top FAFSA® Tips

  1. Read all questions and instructions carefully.
  2. Meet FAFSA deadlines.
  3. Check your email (including spam) regularly for any messages from the U.S. Department of Education or your college or career school.

Taking the Next Steps

Once you’ve completed your FAFSA form, there are more steps you have to take before you receive financial aid. Make sure you know what happens after you submit your FAFSA form.

The above content has been copied from and used with permision of www.studentaid.gov