How To Apply for Federal Student Aid

Getting financial aid starts with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. By filling it out, you apply for the U.S. Department of Education’s federal student aid programs, the largest source of student aid in America. In many cases, you’re also automatically applying for funds from your state, and your school as well.

See If You’re Eligible
You might be eligible if all of these apply to you:

  • You are a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen
  • You are a high school graduate or GED holder
  • You are working toward a degree or certificate in an eligible program
  • You are not in default on a federal student loan and do not owe money to the government related to other grants or loans

Get complete eligibility information.

Completing the FAFSA: Do It Online
It’s recommended that you complete the FAFSA online. More help is available online, and you’ll get a response within 3-5 days, rather than 2-3 weeks by mail.

Before you start, find out what information you need and how to fill out the form. Save time by gathering all the necessary documents and information first. Go to the FAFSA Web site to find out exactly what to do.

You can also use Completing the FAFSA, a detailed tutorial from the U.S. Department of Education. It’s available online and in downloadable form.

FAFSA Worksheets: Get a Head Start
The FAFSA Web site has lots of resources to help you:

  • A list of the documents you will need before beginning your FAFSA.
  • A worksheet to determine your FAFSA dependency status. If the FAFSA considers you to be dependent on your parents or family, you will need to provide information about them on the application. The dependency status worksheet helps you figure out whether you’re dependent before filling out the FAFSA.
  • Download the FAFSA on the Web Worksheet. You can use it to practice filling out the real FAFSA.