Home > Financial Aid > Federal Aid > The FAFSA


New Year Means New Application

Though it is a holiday, New Year’s Day is also a day to get down to business. While you’re starting your New Year’s resolutions, college students and college-bound high school students should also start filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The Department of Education starts accepting the FAFSA") on January 1 of each year. State application deadlines fall soon after, some as early as February. So while you might not start classes until August or September, start applying for financial aid as soon as the FAFSA is available each year.

What You Need

To complete the FAFSA, you will need the following (if available):

  • Your social security number
  • A driver’s license if you have one
  • Bank statements and records of investments
  • Records of untaxed income
  • Your most recent tax return and W2s (2014 for the 2015-2016 FAFSA)
  • All of the above for your parents if you are considered a dependent
  • A PIN to sign electronically (go to pin.ed.gov)

If you’ve applied before, fill out a renewal FAFSA, which allows you to skip a few questions. You will still need your tax, savings, and investment information for the new year. Your tax information must be from the previous calendar year to file. The Department of Education relies heavily on tax information to determine a person’s ability to pay for college. If your financial situation changes drastically talk to your school’s financial aid office to make changes to your student financial aid.

If you do not have your tax information ready for y our application, which is often the case if you’re applying in January or February, use a previous year’s tax return to estimate. This way you have a FAFSA on file before priority deadlines have passed. Once you’ve done your taxes for the current year, make the corrections online. This is the best way to finish you application early and maximize your state and campus-basedfinancial aid packages.

Why You Should Apply

Completing the FAFSA is an important step in funding your education The FAFSA is used by the Department of Education to determine eligibility for federal student financial aid for college. This aid includes federal grant programs (such as the Pell Grant), federal work-study, and federal student loans. It is also used by states to determine eligibility for their college aid programs, such as state grants. Colleges also use the FAFSA to determine eligibility for the need-based aid programs they administer. Finally, many scholarship opportunities request FAFSA information as part of their application process. Always apply for need-based scholarships and grants. At the minimum, you will qualify for Stafford Loans, low-interest federal student loans.

Where To Get More Information

TVisit fafsa.ed.gov and check out "Before Beginning a FAFSA" to get prepared. There you will find information about application deadlines, required documents, applying for a PIN, and the application process. We also offer financial aid resources at Scholarships.com. For further reading, check out our "Resources" section.

Latest College & Financial Aid News

College Student Loses Scholarship, Sues School

March 20, 2018

by Susan Dutca

A former University of Central Florida football player who lost his athletic scholarship for his "YouTube antics" is now suing the university for allegedly violating his constitutional rights. In its defense, the university claims he violated NCAA rules "on players not making money from their likeness and reputation." [...]

Autistic Student Alleges Assault, Sues College for $5M

March 13, 2018

by Susan Dutca

An autistic Orange Coast College student who was barred from campus is suing the institution for $5 million, claiming it mistreated him. The civil lawsuit was filed after an altercation where the student was pepper-sprayed and arrested for felony vandalism and misdemeanor charges. [...]

Land Your Pot of Gold with March 2018 Scholarships

March 7, 2018

by Susan Dutca

You don't need to have the luck of the Irish to apply for and win these March scholarships. If you want to see a little more green in your future to help pay your college tuition, you will need to explore, review and apply for these March 2018 scholarships. If you prefer to get a list of personalized scholarships for which you qualify instead, conduct a free scholarship search here. [...]

Last Reviewed: March 2018