Filing Options

You have options! Pick what's right for you.

Students and parents have three options for completing and filing a FAFSA:

  1. Use a fee-based FAFSA preparation and submission service. We at Student Financial Aid Services, Inc. offer accurate and fast FAFSA preparation, advice, a personalized review, secure electronic filing and tracking, assistance for late filers, and a comprehensive deadline database. Our promise is to help families access the most financial aid possible to pursue their college dreams.
  2. Complete, electronically sign, and submit your FAFSA on the U.S. Department of Education’s Web site for free.
  3. Complete and submit a paper FAFSA to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) for free. A paper FAFSA is available at high school guidance offices, college financial aid offices, and most libraries.

To help you decide what’s your best option, here’s the key advantages and considerations of each filing method:


We make completing the application simple. Most can be prepared in minutes.

  • Knowledge - Our knowledgeable Student Aid Advisors will answer individual questions and guide you through complicated sections of the application about taxes, dependency, assets, non-traditional households, self-employment, and other special situations.
  • Accuracy – FAFSA errors can deprive students of financial aid. Your FAFSA is personally reviewed by our Student Aid Advisors whether you use our ExpressFAFSA™ or FAFSALive™. Our 450-point FAFSACheck™ error detector resolves inconsistencies that may otherwise cause delays or loss of financial aid.
  • Accessibility – We extend our operating hours during peak filing periods to help clients facing deadlines. Our team is often available when college financial aid, U.S. Department of Education, and high school guidance offices are closed – including many weekends.
  • Save time – The form is complex, asks over 130 questions, and can take an inexperienced person a lot of time. Using our FAFSALive™ service, our knowledgeable Student Aid Advisors complete your FAFSA in minutes, and submit it directly to the federal processor via a secure electronic transmission. A signature page is generated for you to sign and return.

    To help clients who choose our online ExpressFAFSA™ service, we created a simplified method of filling out the government’s complex aid application. It lets you answer an individual question and automatically completes multiple FAFSA questions.
  • Security - Our secure website allows clients to log in and complete applications in multiple sessions, and to electronically track application status online.
  • On Time - We offer priority filing for those facing a deadline. We offer an up-to-date database of individual state and college filing deadlines.
  • Tracking – We monitor your application’s status daily until it is successfully processed by the federal government and made available to college financial aid administrators. We send you e-mails to keep you informed throughout the process.
  • Value – Our professional services are reasonably priced and affordable for most students and their parents. Check out our prices to decide which option suits you best. Some of our options include automatic annual billing. See details in our Terms of Use.

98% of our clients recommend our services. Read genuine client comments here.

Filing your FAFSA on the U.S. Department of Education Website

You may complete your FAFSA electronically using the U.S. Department of Education’s free “FAFSA on the Web” service. You may print, sign, and mail the signature page; or you may sign it electronically. If you sign electronically, you may receive your Student Aid Report (SAR) in about three days. If you mail your signature page, receiving your SAR may take as long as 10 days.

Using the ED website, if you choose to sign the application electronically, you and your parents (if you are a dependent) must create an FSA ID (previously known as the PIN).


Filing is free.

You can complete an application in multiple sessions and electronically sign your application with an FSA ID.

There is limited notification of inconsistencies and omissions on your form.


The application’s over 130 questions lead users through 25 to 100 screens depending on how they answer, and can typically take as long as one to two hours to complete. Many people find sections of the form complicated or confusing.

If you choose to sign the application electronically, students and parents must apply and wait for an FSA ID, which can take several days.

During peak filing periods, it can be difficult to reach a representative at the ED’s Federal Student Aid Information Center.

Your application will not automatically receive a personalized review to identify and resolve errors prior to submission.

You must track your application status yourself online.

Filing by Phone with the U.S. Department of Education's FAFSA on the Phone (FOTP)


Filing is free.

You get real-time counseling on the financial aid process and end-to-end support for submission of the FAFSA.


This pilot service was announced Dec. 18, 2008 and is designed only for applicants who do not have access to FAFSA on the Web and who are facing fast-approaching state application deadlines. In 2009, ED limits FAFSA on the Phone (FOTP) to students in Rhode Island, Indiana, and West Virginia only.


You may complete a paper FAFSA application and mail it to the Department of Education (ED) for processing. After it is processed, you'll receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) in about two to three weeks.

You can download the forms from ED’s website and print them yourself or you can obtain a paper FAFSA at high school guidance offices, college financial aid offices, and most libraries.


Filing is free and doesn’t require a computer.


A paper FAFSA (4 pages of instructions, over 130 questions) can take several hours to complete. Many find parts of the form complicated or confusing.

It’s the slowest filing option, which is an important consideration—particularly if you’re filing late or trying to meet a deadline.

It is the most error-prone filing method. The ED rejects FAFSAs with errors. Aid is limited and some aid is first-come, first-served so errors could delay processing your form and could deprive you of some aid.

During peak filing periods, it can be difficult to reach a representative at the ED’s Federal Student Aid Information Center for assistance.

Your application status is cumbersome to track.

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FAFSA Filing Options