Student Aid (FAFSA)

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the U.S. Department of Education's application for financial aid. You must complete and submit this form yearly in order to receive any type of financial aid: grants, work-study or loans.

TIP: The FAFSA is the application used to apply for federal and state student aid programs. Whether you are thinking about attending school in-state or out-of-state, the FAFSA is the "common" application used by schools to determine eligibility for financial aid.

The information provided on the FAFSA is used to calculate an Expected Family Contribution (EFC), the amount that you and your family/spouse are expected to contribute toward the cost of education for the academic year.

The U.S. Department of Education assigns a FSA ID that you and your parents/spouse can use to speed up the financial aid process by several weeks and:

  • Electronically sign your FAFSA
  • Access copies of your FAFSA
  • Electronically sign your student loan promissory note

TIP: Using your FSA ID will make processing your financial aid much easier and faster!

The FAFSA must be completed using the prior, prior year's tax returns each year you want to receive financial aid. This is because financial aid eligibility is based on annual income, which may change from year to year.

When completing the FAFSA, take time to carefully review your information. Follow these tips to ensure your application is processed quickly:

  • Read instructions carefully.
  • Don't leave a question or field blank, even if the question does not apply to you. Complete the field with a zero or "N/A"
  • Make sure your numbers are accurate - especially your Social Security number and birth date.
  • Double-check your answers.
  • Be sure that you and, if necessary, your parents/spouse sign the form.
  • Keep copies of the information that you submit on your FAFSA.

If you have questions about completing the FAFSA, contact the financial aid office at your school or call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 800-433-3243. Access the FAFSA at:

TIP:A good rule of thumb is to complete a new FAFSA as early as possible after October 1, keeping in mind that many schools have a March 1 priority deadline.

After submitting the FAFSA, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) and will verify the information is accurate. The SAR summarizes the information from your FAFSA and provides your financial aid eligibility.

The SAR is also forwarded to the financial aid office at the school(s) you selected when completing your FAFSA. The financial aid office will acknowledge receiving your information and request any needed additional paperwork.  Once your financial aid file is complete, the financial aid office will award aid based on the following equation:

Cost of Attendance*
- Expected Family Contribution**
- Other Financial Assistance
= Financial Need

* Each school develops their cost of attendance, which includes the total cost of tuition, fees, room and board, books, supplies, transportation, personal expenses, etc.

** Expected Family Contribution is determined by the FAFSA.

You will receive an award letter indicating the type and amount of financial aid you may receive, including student loan opportunities. Follow the instructions in the letter to receive your aid. You may accept or decline any or all of the aid offered. The availability of financial aid programs varies from school to school. Check with the financial aid office to determine which programs will be available.

TIP: Communicate with the financial aid office. Make sure you understand the type of aid you are receiving and the requirements to receive it.