What Is FAFSA?
All students are expected to contribute towards the cost of their college education.
How much you and your family will be expected to contribute depends on your financial
situation—and is what is referred to as your Expected Family Contribution or EFC.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the form
used by the U.S. Department of Education to determine your Expected Family Contribution
(EFC) by conducting a “need analysis” based on financial information, such as income,
assets and other household information, which you (and your parents if you are a
will be asked to provide. The form is submitted to, and processed by, a federal
processor contracted by the U.S. Department of Education (ED), and the results are
electronically transmitted to the financial aid offices of the schools that you
list on your application.
FAFSA is the application used by nearly all colleges and universities to determine
eligibility for federal, state, and college-sponsored financial aid, including grants,
educational loans, and work-study programs.
Nearly every student is eligible for some form of financial aid, including low-interest
Federal Stafford and/or parent PLUS loans, regardless of income or circumstances,
provided that you:
are a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national or an eligible non-citizen;
have a valid Social Security Number;
have a high school diploma or GED;
are registered with the U.S. Selective Service (if you are a male aged 18-25);
complete a FAFSA promising to use any federal aid for educational purposes;
do not owe refunds on any federal student grants;
are not in default on any student loans; and
have not been found guilty of the sale or possession of illegal drugs during a period
in which federal aid was being received.
Applying for Aid...FAFSA is step #1
To be considered for federal financial aid, you must complete and submit a FAFSA.
Additionally, most states, colleges and universities use the FAFSA to award other
types of institutional financial aid, including state- and college-sponsored financial
aid, such as grants, educational loans, and work-study programs.
(Note: In addition to the FAFSA, some states/colleges require additional forms or
applications for aid. Check with your school’s financial aid office for any state-
and/or school-specific requirements.)
Many states, colleges and universities have filing deadlines that are much earlier—some
occurring as early as the first few weeks in January. Additionally, applicants have
to pay particular attention to deadline specifics, as some refer to the date by
which individual FAFSAs must be submitted (Transaction Receipt Date), while
others refer to the date by which individual FAFSAs must be fully processed
(completed by the federal processor and made available to the school financial aid
IMPORTANT: We strongly encourage all students to check with
their school’s financial aid office to determine their exact FAFSA deadline requirements,
and to file their FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1st.
(Note: Student Financial Aid Services maintains a comprehensive database of individual
state and school filing deadlines as a convenience to our clients, and offers special
assistance to late filers, including those facing impending deadlines. See FAFSA Deadlines for details.)