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Applying For Financial Aid

But I hate filling out a bunch of forms.

You don't have to fill out form after form; all you have to do is complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You can apply electronically from your home computer or from a computer at a central location like your high school, your local public library, or your local educational opportunity center using FAFSA on the Web. If you choose to use a paper FAFSA, just mail it to the address indicated on the application.

FAFSA on the Web is an interactive Web site where you can complete a FAFSA online and submit your data over the Internet. All you need is a computer with access to the Internet. FAFSA on the Web can be found at:


For more information on applying electronically, visit:


Doesn't anyone use paper anymore?

You can get a paper FAFSA—in English or Spanish—from your local library or high school, the college or career school you plan to attend, or our Federal Student Aid Information Center:

Federal Student Aid Information Center
P.O. Box 84
Washington, DC 20044-0084
1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243)

The college or career school you plan to attend can give you any other forms you might need. Applying for all our programs is free.

When can I apply?

For 2013-2014, you should apply as soon after Jan. 1, 2013, as possible. Don't transmit your electronic FAFSA or sign, date, or mail your paper FAFSA before Jan. 1, 2013. If you do any of these things, your application will not be processed, and you will have to reapply.

Your eligibility is determined one award year at a time. The results from your 2013-2014 application are good only for the 2013-2014 award year (July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2014, and any summer terms that your school considers part of that award year).

After you've applied for the first time, you might be able to apply more easily and quickly in subsequent award years by completing a Renewal FAFSA. With a Renewal FAFSA, you have to fill out only the information that changed from the previous award year. The Renewal FAFSA is also available at FAFSA on the Web.

What Should I know before I get started?

You need to get a PIN. You and parents of dependent students (see sidebar) can request one at www.pin.ed.gov .You'll need a valid Social Security Number (SSN) to apply for federal student aid. We use your SSN to verify your information and locate your records. If you don't have a valid SSN your application won't be processed. If you don't have an SSN yet, you should apply for one at your local Social Security office. You can find out more about applying for an SSN at:


You'll need to know whose financial information to report on the FAFSA: yours and your parents or just yours. That will be determined by your dependency status. Most students who, like you, are entering college or a career school straight from high school are considered dependent students.

If you are dependent, you have to report both your and your parents' financial information on the FAFSA. This information will be considered when your eligibility is determined.

If, however, you meet at least one of the listed criteria, you're independent and report only your financial information (and your spouse's if you're married).

In special or unusual circumstances, a college's or career school's financial aid administrator might determine that an otherwise dependent student should be considered independent. (A parent's refusal to provide financial assistance or to provide the required FAFSA information is not a valid reason for such a determination.) Please see the "Eligibility Criteria" section for more on this topic.

If you're dependent and your parents are divorced or separated, you'll need to complete the FAFSA using information about the parent you lived with for the most time during the 12 months preceding the date of application. If you did not live with either parent, or if you lived with each parent an equal number of days, use information about the parent who provided the greater amount of financial support during the 12 months preceding the date of application.

If the parent you receive financial support from was a single parent who is now married, or if the parent you receive support from is divorced or widowed and has remarried, your stepparent's financial information is required on the FAFSA. This does not mean that your stepparent is obligated to give financial assistance to you, but his or her income and assets represent significant information about the family's resources. Including this information on the FAFSA helps us form an accurate picture of your family's total financial strength.

What does the application ask for?

The FAFSA asks for your family's financial information, when you complete the 2013-2014 FAFSA or FAFSA on the Web, you'll need your parents' 2012 U.S. income tax return if you are a dependent student. If you filed a return, you'll need yours too. Referring to the tax forms makes it easier to answer the FAFSA questions, which ask for information from specific lines on the U.S. income tax forms. If you have not completed your tax form in time to use it when filling out the FAFSA, you can estimate your answers and then correct them later. Bank statements, W-2 forms, and business or farm records will also be helpful.

Save all of the forms you refer to when completing the FAFSA because you might need them later if your school asks you to show that the information on your FAFSA is correct. If the information is incorrect, you won't get aid until you correct it. It's a good idea to keep a photocopy of your completed FAFSA or a printout of your application from FAFSA on the Web or FAFSA Express.

On FAFSA on the Web, and the paper FAFSA, you can list as many as six schools you're interested in attending, and those schools will get the results of your application after it been processed. Each school that participates in our programs has a federal school code. This code must be listed in Step Six of the application so that each school that interests you can get your information.

You can get federal school codes from a college or career school financial aid office, your high school, or your local public library. FAFSA on the Web has built-in, searchable federal school code lists. You can also find a searchable list on the FAFSA website:


You aren't required to list any schools on the paper FAFSA, but if you do so, the school you select can deliver your aid faster. If you're using FAFSA on the Web, you must list at least one school in Step Six of the application.

What is a PIN?

Because electronic signatures hold the same legal status as written signatures, students and parents of dependent students applying for aid may sign their FAFSA on the Web applications by using their PINs, allowing the student aid process to be completed totally online.

If you are a new applicant and you or your parents do not have a PIN be sure to request one at www.pin.ed.gov before you complete the FAFSA. You can request a PIN as early as your senior year in high school. If you are a dependent student, your parents' financial information must be reported and they must also electronically sign the FAFSA. So make sure your parents also request one ahead of time.

You will need to supply your name, Social Security Number, date of birth, and mailing address, and submit the PIN request. When the submission has been successfully completed, a confirmation number will appear on the screen. If all the information provided is correct and once it’s verified with other federal agencies, a PIN will be generated and mailed to you via the US Postal Service. As of January 2002, students and parents will have the option of having their PIN sent by e-mail to them.

If you have any questions about the PIN call 1-800-801-0576.

How can I find out the status of my application?

Any applicant can check his or her application status by going to the FAFSA on the Web site. All filers, electronic and paper, can make corrections to their information on that site as long as they have a PIN. You can request a PIN at www.pin.ed.gov.

If you file a paper FAFSA, include the postcard that comes with it. We will stamp the postcard with the date we received your FAFSA and mail the postcard back to you. We will process your FAFSA within four weeks from the date you mail it.

What happens after my application is processed?

After your application information is complete and transmitted or mailed to FAFSA, you’ll receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) or SAR Information Acknowledgment in the mail. Your SAR summarizes the information you reported on your FAFSA. Check the SAR to make sure the information it contains is accurate.

If you applied using a paper FAFSA, you can fix any mistakes by putting the correct answers on the SAR, signing it, and mailing it back. You can also make corrections through FAFSA on the Web using a PIN. You can request one at www.pin.ed.gov. Your school might be able to process corrections electronically for you, check with your school. Make sure you keep a photocopy of your SAR with the corrections.

If you’re able to apply electronically, your FAFSA will be processed in about a week. The processing results will be sent electronically to your school, and you’ll get a SAR Information Acknowledgment in the mail.

You can check the information on your SAR Information Acknowledgment, but you cannot use it to make corrections. You should make corrections using FAFSA on the Web.

No matter how you apply, the SAR you receive will reflect the information you provided on your FAFSA. If the information you provided is complete your SAR will also have your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

Using your EFC, your financial aid administrator determines how much federal student aid you can get. As we stated earlier, the schools you listed on your application will also get a report of your FAFSA information.

You can check the status of your application and request a duplicate of your SAR from the Federal Student Aid Information Center by calling:

1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243)

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