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How Do I Apply for FAFSA?

Q: Help! I need to fill out my FAFSA forms and I don’t know where to start! What do I need to know about filling out my FAFSA forms?
A: Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) season is in full swing! Whether you’re a college student, a high school senior or you’re seeking financial aid for your college-age child, it’s time to get those forms filled out. The rules and deadlines can be confusing, but we’re here to help. Below, we’ve answered many of the questions you may have on applying for FAFSA.

When is my application due? 

There are three FAFSA deadlines you need to note: federal, college, and state. The federal FAFSA submission has one set date, while each college and state sets its deadlines that may or may not coincide with the federal deadline.

To be considered for federal student aid for the 2021–22 award year, the FAFSA form must be completed between Oct. 1, 2020, and 11:59 p.m. Central time (CT) on June 30, 2022. Any FAFSA corrections or updates must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. CT on Sept. 10, 2022.

The application for the 2022-23 award year will become available on Oct. 1, 2021, and must be completed by 11:59 p.m. Central time (CT) on June 30, 2023. Any corrections or updates must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. CT on Sept. 10, 2023.

As mentioned, many states and colleges have their own deadlines for submitting applications for state and institutional financial aid. You can find your state’s deadline here. Check with your college choice(s) about their deadlines.

The deadlines can get confusing, and while the federal government provides ample time to submit forms, many states and colleges provide aid based on a first-come, first-served basis. For this reason, it’s best to get your application in as soon as you can to increase your chances of receiving aid.

Who is eligible for FAFSA?

To qualify for FAFSA, you must meet the following criteria:

There are more eligibility requirements for FAFSA. You can view the full list of criteria here.

How do I apply for FAFSA?

You can apply for FAFSA online at FAFSA.gov

You can still send in your application via snail mail, but this is not recommended for several reasons: Online applications are simpler to complete and generally have fewer errors because they are designed to detect common mistakes and/or typos. Your application is also likely to be processed sooner when it’s submitted online. Finally, when applying for FAFSA online, you will be given the option to have your IRS data automatically retrieved and then populate the relevant fields, significantly lowering your chances of errors in your tax reporting.

What are some common mistakes people make on the FAFSA form? 

A mistake on your form can delay your application and limit your eligibility for aid. To avoid errors, be sure to read every question carefully and review your application before submitting it.

Here are some of the most common errors on FAFSA forms:

Can I apply for FAFSA as an independent? 

If your parents are not paying any part of your college tuition, you may be able to apply for FAFSA as an independent. If you can apply as an independent, your parent’s income will not be considered when your eligibility is determined.

You may be able to apply for FAFSA as an independent if you meet any of the following criteria:

If you do not meet any of these requirements, consider contacting a financial aid administrator to discuss your options.

The sooner you apply for FAFSA, the greater your chances of obtaining financial aid for college. Don’t delay; complete your FAFSA early!

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