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.
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.
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.
The FAFSA Web site has lots of resources to help you:
If you have questions about completing the FAFSA, call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID, or click the "Live Help" link on the Contact Us page of the FAFSA Web site, then click the "CUSTOMER SERVICE LIVE" button.
If you are a high school junior or below, use FAFSA4Caster to estimate how much federal assistance you might get. This FREE tool helps you:
- Estimate your eligibility for federal student aid
- Reduce the time it takes to complete the FAFSA
- Plan for your future financial needs