Did you submit your 2015-16 FAFSA® before you (or your parents, if you are a dependent student) filed your 2014 taxes? If so, don’t forget you are required to return to your application to update the information you originally estimated with the updated numbers from your 2014 tax return. And, you should update your information as soon as possible.
The easiest way to update your tax information is by using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT). It allows you to transfer your tax information directly into your FAFSA! Check to see if your tax return is available and if you are eligible to use the tool, but keep in mind, you generally have to wait a few weeks after filing your taxes before you can use the IRS DRT.
Change your answer from “Will file” to “Already completed.”
At this point, if you are eligible to use the IRS DRT, you will see a Link to IRS button. If you are not eligible to use the IRS DRT, you can manually enter the data from your completed tax return.
Click Link to IRS and log in with the IRS to retrieve your tax information.
Enter the requested information exactly as it appears on your tax return.
Review your information to see what tax data will be transferred into your FAFSA.
Check Transfer My Tax Information into the FAFSA, and click Transfer Now to return to the FAFSA.
Review the data that was transferred to your FAFSA and click Next.
Sign and submit your updated FAFSA.
Once you’ve made updates at fafsa.gov, your changes will be processed in three to five days. You’ll receive a revised Student Aid Report (SAR) indicating the changes made to your application. Each school you listed on your FAFSA can access the revised information one day after it’s processed.
The University of California at Santa Barbara put together a video that walks you through this process. Check it out:
Well, what are you waiting for? Let the updating begin!
April Jordan is a senior communications specialist at Federal Student Aid.
As a senior in high school, I felt as if I was the only one not excited about graduation because I had been denied acceptance to the universities for which I had applied. I had given up on having a glamorous college experience and had no idea what the future had in store for me and enrolled at a community college.
During my two years in community college, I reflected on career choices and my future as a whole, all the while using that time to boost my GPA. Once I figured out what I wanted to do, I applied to four-year universities and was accepted to the perfect school for me.
As you are preparing to apply for college, keep community college in mind. It’s a great place to begin your higher education.
Here are four reasons why:
Community college is affordable
The cost of attendance for two years at my community college cost less than one semester at a state college. This is huge advantage that most students don’t realize until they graduate and have to start repaying loans.
Community colleges offer class times designed to accommodate a variety of schedules, making a part-time job manageable for full-time students. There is now a limit on the maximum period of time that you can receive Direct Subsidized Loans and the Pell Grant, so make sure to keep track of how you’re progressing in your degree program. You don’t want to lose eligibility for these types of financial aid!
Better Transfer Opportunities
Community college is a perfect solution for those who don’t have the best grades coming out of high school. While obtaining my associate degree, I was able to boost my GPA and resume by working. After graduation I transferred to a university that I would have otherwise not been accepted to in high school. Community college can be seen as a second chance as long as you are willing to make the commitment and college admissions offices understand that some students need more time and experience to discover what they want out of life.
TIP: Many community colleges have “Guaranteed Admissions Programs” whereby students who successfully complete their associate degree at a community college are offered automatic admission to participating four-year colleges and universities.
Attain multiple degrees
Unlike universities, community colleges provide the opportunity for an associate degree that feeds directly into a bachelor’s degree. The time a typical university student will have spent on one degree, a community college transfer will have received two degrees!
Talla Hashemi is a junior at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill majoring in Journalism and Public Relations. She is a virtual intern for the U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid.
First Lady Michelle Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan participate in an interview with Don Francisco of UNIVISION at Northwestern High School in Hyattsville, MD, Feb. 12, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)
First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary Arne Duncan sat down recently with Don Francisco, the renowned host of Univision’s longest-running TV show, Sábado Gigante, to discuss the importance of filling out the FAFSA. The message is simple: ¡Estudia, Hay Dinero! or, There’s Money to Study!
Students and parents filled a classroom at Northwestern High School in Hyattsville, Maryland, to hear the First Lady tell her story of achieving her dreams by going to college. The First Lady spoke of her experience as a first-generation college student whose parents offered lots of moral support and encouragement even though they had not gone to college themselves. She told the students, “I’m actually just like you. There’s no magic. It requires hard work”.
After the interview, parents and seniors gathered in the school’s computer lab to complete the FAFSA with the help of school counselors and staff from Federal Student Aid.
When talking to the students about their future goals, many were honest about their experience and even admitted that they messed up at the beginning of high school. They explained that they realized the importance of going to college because it’s key to a better future. One of those students said she wants to pursue a dream of becoming a fashion designer. She understands that in order to have a promising future, she needs to get a degree. With the support of her family and friends, she will graduate this spring and attend community college in the fall.
Both the First Lady and Secretary Duncan understand that parents may be nervous about their kids leaving home or may be apprehensive about completing the form. But they urged all the parents to encourage their kids to reach higher, to complete their educations, and to own their futures.
The Department has simplified the FAFSA, making it easier now for students and families to complete. It’s no secret that going to college is expensive, but like Secretary Duncan said, “It’s the best investment you could make.” In only twenty-five minutes a student and family can have access to the billions of dollars in federal aid the government offers towards education. It costs absolutely nothing to fill out the form, but can be the factor that helps a student achieve his or her dreams.
Remember: There’s money to study! If you or a student you know has not yet filled out the FAFSA, visit www.studentaid.gov to answer your questions and link you to the FAFSA. Congratulations to all of the students making the choice to Reach Higher!
Rahje Branch is the Reach Higher intern in the Office of the First Lady. She is a sophomore studying at Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA.
If you’re planning on going to college this fall, you will definitely want to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). The FAFSA not only gives you access to grants and loans from the federal government, but many states and schools also use information from the FAFSA to award their financial aid.
If you are considered a dependent student for the purposes of the FAFSA, you are required to provide information about your parent(s) on the application. (Note: The dependency guidelines for the FAFSA are set by Congress and are different than those used on your tax return.) You might be wondering which parent’s information to report or what you should do if your parents are divorced, remarried, or if you live with another family member.
Don’t worry; we can help you figure out whose information to include. For a quick visual reference, check out our infographic, Who’s My Parent When I Fill Out the FAFSA?
Or, if you want to more information, here are some guidelines. Unless noted, “parent” means your legal (biological or adoptive) parent.
If your parents are living and legally married to each other, answer the questions about both of them.
If your parents are living together and are not married, answer the questions about both of them.
If your parents are divorced or separated and don’t live together, answer the questions about the parent with whom you lived more during the past 12 months. If you lived the same amount of time with each parent, give answers about the parent who provided more financial support during the past 12 months or during the most recent year that you actually received support from a parent. If you have a stepparent who is married to the legal parent whose information you’re reporting, you must provide information about that stepparent as well.
The following people are not considered your parents on your FAFSA unless they have adopted you: grandparents, foster parents, legal guardians, older brothers or sisters, and uncles or aunts.
The media center at GHS was packed for “FAFSA Fill-in Day”. (Photo credit: U.S. Department of Education)
I wish all my mornings could be like this – visiting schools filled with excited students, as they explore their options and take action to turn their college dreams into realities.
Students, teachers and administrators packed the Media Center at Gaithersburg High School (GHS) in Gaithersburg, Maryland as they prepared for their “FAFSA Fill-in Day” to encourage seniors to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at school, and find out more information regarding other financial aid options, and scholarships. They’d been kind enough to ask a team of us from the Department to join them – and there was no way I was going to miss out on the experience!
School spirit filled the room. A sea of blue Gaithersburg apparel adorned the crowd in the Media Center, with the phrase “Blue Crew” emblazoned on shirts and sweaters. Multiple flags from around the world hung from the ceiling, celebrating the diversity of the Gaithersburg High School community.
In the crowd, a familiar face stood out to our Department of Education (ED) staff. GHS English Resource Teacher and former Teacher Ambassador Fellow, Ms. Jennifer Bado-Aleman, welcomed attendees and announced that Federal Student Aid representatives were on hand to answer questions about the application. As seniors began filling out their forms, I was invited to a roundtable where students described their experiences in using the FAFSA, shared their college and career aspirations, and even opened up about some higher education fears.
“I always knew I wanted to go to college. Unfortunately, I didn’t look into it until last year,” one senior explained. “We need to start a plan by our freshman year,” interjected another. When I asked about the college information they needed, some mentioned: information about which majors specific colleges offer, guidance on how much to emphasize extra-curricular activities on their college applications, and how much their average SAT scores would count in how colleges considered candidates. Others said they took a step further and first looked at careers they wanted to pursue, before narrowing down their list of schools with a strong focus in that field.
They were pleased to learn that ED had released our College Ratings framework. President Obama asked our Department to design a ratings system that will give parents and students more information about their college choices by recognizing institutions that focus on accessibility, affordability and completion. The students also offered their opinions on how and by which measures colleges should be rated, including the quality of their majors, their graduation rates, and the employment rates of their graduates. Others chimed in on ratings options as the conversation continued:
“Financial aid to students,” Blake volunteered.
“Internship placements,” added Joanne.
“Tuition rates,” said Hakeem.
Parker thought colleges should be rated on “freshman retention, and the employment of their graduates. [Colleges] need to consistently be living up to their expectation.”
Chatting about the FAFSA. (Photo credit: U.S. Department of Education)
I was glad to be able to share the many ED resources and tools that help students guide and focus their college search, like the College Navigator, which allows students to search for colleges based on majors, institution type and geography, and the College Scorecard, which gives students access to more information about a school’s affordability and value.
Paying for college was another important theme; and several students expressed fears about student debt. “My siblings all went to college and now struggle to pay their loans,” DJ noted. Blake told me he’d been considering out-of-state schools, but didn’t want to be saddled with years of loans to repay.
I’ve heard from many students who worry about how they will manage their student debt. That is why President Obama outlined a set of actions that can help borrowers better manage their student loan debt, including expanding his Pay As You Earn plan so more borrowers can cap monthly payments at 10 percent of their income. In addition, those that enter public service full-time may have their loans forgiven through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
Since President Obama took office, our Department has made key investment in federal student aid such as creating the $2,500 American Opportunity Tax Credit, raising the maximum Pell Grant award by $1,000, and bringing millions of dollars back into the hands of students by eliminating billions of dollars of subsidies to banks.
The first step in receiving federal student aid is filling out the FAFSA, just like so many of the students I visited in Gaithersburg did. Getting help to pay for college is the best investment any student can make in their future. So, go for the green! Learn more and help us spread the word by visiting StudentAid.ed.gov.
Ted Mitchell is the U.S. Under Secretary of Education.
Back in March of 2012, ED’s Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) announced the release of this innovative tool to help guidance professionals, school administrators, and practitioners track and subsequently increase FAFSA completions at high schools across the country.
Over time, we enhanced the Tool to not only provide FAFSA submission and completion totals for high schools during the current year but also totals for the same time the year before and other key benchmark dates.
The 2015 version provides updated information on a weekly basis during the peak FAFSA application period. This means that counselors and administrators will have access to current data so they can more accurately gauge the impact of outreach efforts and identify successful local strategies.
Before we developed the tool, the only source of data on FAFSA completions that high schools had was from self-reported student surveys, which were highly unreliable.
Now, educators have real-time access to reliable data to track FAFSA submission and completion and gauge their progress in increasing FAFSA completion. This is incredibly important because studies have indicated that FAFSA completion correlates strongly with college enrollment, particularly among low-income populations.
We encourage high schools to use this data as one component of a comprehensive college access and completion program within their school. To help educators, counselors, and others with this and other aid awareness and loan repayment efforts, we’ve created the Financial Aid Toolkit.
The Toolkit consolidates financial aid resources and content into a searchable online database, making it easy for individuals to quickly access the information they need to support their students. It also provides counselors with access to valuable resources, such as how to host a FAFSA completion workshop. We’re also encouraging folks to help us get the word out about FAFSA completion on their social media accounts – and we’ve even written some sample posts to help get the conversation started!
The Tool is a critical component of President Obama’s FAFSA Completion Initiative and this year, local completion efforts are getting a boost from Mrs. Obama’s “FAFSA Completion Challenge,” a video competition the First Lady recently launched to encourage more high school students to complete the FAFSA.
FAFSA data isn’t just for determining eligibility for federal student aid. Many states, institutions, and private organizations rely on the FAFSA to determine eligibility for non-federal sources of aid.
Last year, over one million high school seniors did not submit the FAFSA, which made them ineligible for federal grants and loans, as well as most state-based and institutional aid. When students complete the FAFSA, they help themselves and make a positive contribution to their school, communities, and states.
The promise of the FAFSA Completion Tool lies in its simplicity and its use of current data to effectively measure the success of FAFSA completion efforts. Last year, it provided FAFSA submission and completion data for the senior classes at over 25,000 high schools in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and all U.S. territories.
For more information on the Tool and to search updated FAFSA Completion Tool data by high school for the senior class of 2015, visit StudentAid.gov/FAFSA-HS-Data.
Todd May is Federal Student Aid’s Director of Communication Services and Greg Fortelny is the Acting Director of Federal Student Aid’s Customer Analytics Group.
There are school deadlines, state deadlines, and a federal deadline. An easy rule of thumb to remember is: You should submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) based on the earliest due date possible.
If you plan to attend college between July 1, 2015, and June 30, 2016, and you want to be considered for financial aid, your deadline could be as early as February!
You don’t have to wait until you or your parents file your taxes to submit your FAFSA; you can estimate your tax information and update your FAFSA later.
For college deadlines, visit the school’s website or contact its financial aid office.
Check out the table below for information about states with first-come, first-served programs and information for states and territories that require checking in with your school’s financial aid office. If your state is not listed in the table below, click here to find your state’s FAFSA deadline.
For more specific deadline information from your state of legal residence, use this easy FAFSA deadlines tool.
April Jordan is a Senior Communications Specialist at Federal Student Aid.
January makes me think of holiday parties, tax returns, and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). If you are like me, a world-class procrastinator that agonizes every year at the thought of filing a tax return and submitting a FAFSA, then you are not alone. You also know that it can be time consuming. Now imagine a time-saving process where you instantly transfer your tax information directly into your FAFSA. Actually, there’s no need to imagine; this process exists and you can learn more about it below.
What is the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT)?
The IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) is a tool accessible in the finance section of the FAFSA that will take you to the IRS website. After you log in by providing information exactly as you provided it on your tax return, you will be able to preview your tax information before agreeing to have it directly transferred to your FAFSA. When you return to the FAFSA, you’ll see the relevant questions populated with your information automatically; courtesy of the DRT. You’re welcome.
Why use this tool?
It’s so easy that it only takes a click of a couple buttons to transfer all your tax information.
It can be used by both students and parents.
Most importantly, it is accurate so you don’t have to worry about entering the wrong tax information on your FAFSA.
If I already completed the FAFSA using estimates, can I use the IRS DRT to update my FAFSA once I filed my taxes?
Yes, if you estimated, you will have to update your FAFSA once you have filed your taxes anyway. So why not use the IRS DRT? It’s the easiest way to update your FAFSA. To update your estimates, click “Make FAFSA Corrections” after logging in to fafsa.gov. Navigate to the “Finances” section and indicate that you have already completed your taxes. If your tax return information is available and if you are eligible to do so, you should follow the prompts that allow you to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to transfer your tax return information into your application.
Why can’t I use the IRS DRT?
If you’re not seeing the IRS DRT, there may be a few reasons why:
It is not available for use yet.
You indicated that you will file or are not going to file a federal income tax return.
Your marital status changed after December 31 of the previous calendar year.
The student/parent filed a Form 1040X amended tax return.
The student/parent filed a Puerto Rican or foreign tax return.
If you are not able to use the IRS DRT, don’t worry. Although you’ll be required to enter your tax information manually, we have great resources on StudentAid.gov that walk you through the process.
Now that you know the secret to transferring your tax information to the FAFSA, I hope you will enjoy the time you saved!
Zelma Barrett is a Management and Program Analyst at Federal Student Aid.
If you or someone you know is considering enrolling in college, now is the time to complete the financial aid application – the FAFSA. Students of all ages complete the FAFSA to be considered for financial aid from the federal government, and in most instances, additional money from the state in which they reside and the college they want to attend. That’s why the FAFSA is so important – it is the gateway to three potentially big sources of financial aid from federal, state, and college entities. If you don’t complete a FAFSA, you could be missing out on a lot of financial aid. The data you enter on your FAFSA is used to calculate an Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is the number that’s used to determine your eligibility for federal student aid and is an indicator of your family’s financial strength to pay for college or career school.
FAFSA: Before you file
A wide array of resources is available to help you navigate the college financial aid process. Before you file your FAFSA, you might want to check out some of the most popular sites to get more information. For a comprehensive source of information on preparing, planning and attending college, take a look at StudentAid.gov. This U.S. Department of Education website is a one-stop source of information for students and their families and is designed to help you through every step of the financial aid process.
You can find general information about federal student aid and many of our publications, brochures, and fact sheets by going to StudentAid.gov/resources. Check the above website for the availability of our publications in English, Spanish, PDF, and Braille. Examples of these publications are listed below:
Financial Aid for Graduate and Professional Studentshelps graduate and professional degree students understand what types of federal student aid are available to them. It tells them how to apply for aid, what to consider when taking out a student loan, and where else they can look for graduate school funding.
College Preparation Checklistexplains how to prepare academically and financially for college through “to do” lists aimed at elementary and secondary school students and their parents, as well as adult students. This is the primary publication for any student considering college.
My Future, My Way: First Steps Toward Collegeis a workbook for middle and junior high school students that explains how to prepare academically and financially for college. The publication includes charts, checklists, and other activities to engage students as they gain more information about college preparation and costs.
You also may want to check out FAFSA4caster – an early eligibility estimator that can help you plan ahead when it comes to paying for college.
3) Call 1-800-4-FED-AID [1-800-433-3243] to request that a paper FAFSA be mailed to you.
In some cases, you might be able to apply directly through your school. You should check with the financial aid administrator at the school you are interested in attending to see if the school can assist you with your application.
If you need help understanding a specific question on the FAFSA, this guide . Online filers who need additional assistance with a particular question can use the online help or the “Help and Hints” box on the right-hand side of the screen for each question. Keep in mind that filing a FAFSA online is faster and will enable you to benefit from multiple checks to make sure your form is fully complete. (The paper versions, obviously, don’t have this benefit.)
For us at the U.S. Department of Education, the start of a new year provides a fresh opportunity to remind parents, students, educators and others about the importance of submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA ®). The Department’s office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) provides more than $150 billion in grants, loans, and work-study funds each year to help students pay for college or career school. Completing the FAFSA is the primary step for determining eligibility for federal student aid and subsequently accessing these funds. With the 2015-16 FAFSA having gone live on January 1, FSA is requesting your assistance in promoting FAFSA completion.
We are asking for your help in getting the message out through your social media channels about the importance of completing the FAFSA early in the year. To help you do that, FSA has developed some resources for you to use. They include sample Facebook posts, tweets, blogs, informative videos, photos and infographics. These and other great resources can be found on FSA’s Financial Aid Toolkit. These resources can be tailored to best fit your needs. If you’re new to social media or just looking for ideas on how to easily use these resources or how others are using them, view this presentation.
In addition, over the next few months, FSA’s Digital Engagement Group will be actively managing our own presence on social media with a strong focus on FAFSA completion. We highly encourage you to use and repost our content whenever applicable. Here are the places you can find us:
Thanks for your support and commitment to advancing the higher education goals of students and families across the country.
Susan Thares is the Digital Engagement Lead at the Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid.
Congratulations! You submitted your 2015-2016 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®)! Wondering what happens next? Here are a few things to look out for:
Review Your Student Aid Report (SAR)
After you submit your FAFSA, you’ll get a Student Aid Report (SAR). Your SAR is a summary of the FAFSA data you submitted. Once you have submitted your FAFSA, you’ll get your SAR within three days (if you signed your FAFSA online) to three weeks (if you mailed a signature page.)
Any student with a Federal Student Aid PIN can view and print his or her SAR by logging in to fafsa.gov and clicking on the appropriate school year. This is also where you can check the status of your application if you have not received your SAR yet. Once you get your SAR, you should review it carefully to make sure it’s correct and complete.
Review Your EFC
When reviewing your SAR, look for the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) number. Your EFC can be found in the box at the top of the first page of your SAR, under your Social Security number.
Your EFC is a measure of your family’s financial strength and is calculated according to a formula established by law. This formula considers your family’s taxed and untaxed income, assets, and benefits (such as unemployment or Social Security) as well as your family size and the number of family members who will attend college during the year.
Schools use your EFC to determine your federal student aid eligibility and your financial aid award. However, it’s important to remember that your EFC is not the amount of money your family will have to pay for college nor is it the amount of federal student aid you will receive. It is a number used by your school to calculate how much financial aid you are eligible to receive. Contact your school’s financial aid office if you have any questions about how they calculate financial aid.
Make Corrections If You Need To
It’s important to make sure that everything on your FAFSA is correct and complete, as your school may ask you to verify some of the information.
Do you need to update any information?
It’s easy to make corrections at gov. Simply log in and click “Make FAFSA Corrections.” You’ll need to enter your Federal Student Aid PIN to make any corrections. Corrections should be processed in 3-5 days and you should receive a revised SAR. Detailed instructions here.
Did you submit your FAFSA using income and tax estimates?
To correct your application after filing your taxes, click “Make FAFSA Corrections” after logging in to gov. Navigate to the “Finances” section and indicate that you have already completed your taxes. More details here.
Has your situation changed?
Most information cannot be updated because it must be accurate as of the day you originally signed your FAFSA. You should speak to the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend if there will be a significant change in your or your parent’s income for the present year or if your family has other circumstances that cannot be reported on the FAFSA. There are, however, certain items that you must update. Click here to find out what those are.
Review Your Financial Aid History
The last page of your SAR includes information about your financial aid history, specifically the student loans you have taken out. It’s important to keep track of how much you’re borrowing and to understand the terms and conditions of the loan. Click here to learn more about federal student loans.
Remember: You can always access your financial aid history by logging into My Federal Student Aid. Make sure you have your PIN and Social Security number ready.
Double-Check With Your Schools
Lastly, make sure that you double-check with the financial aid offices at the schools you applied to. Sometimes schools need additional paperwork or have other deadlines. You never want to leave money on the table!
Sandra Vuong is a Digital Engagement Strategist at Federal Student Aid.
Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) is the first step in accessing the more than $150 billion available in federal student aid. Since the 2015-16 FAFSA launched, the Digital Engagement Team at Federal Student Aid has responded to hundreds of FAFSA questions via Federal Student Aid’s social media accounts. (Yes, believe it or not, we do actually read what you tweet at us or write on our wall and do our best to respond to as much as we can!) In doing this, we’ve found that there are a few FAFSA questions that are asked a lot. We want to help clear up any confusion, so let’s go through them:
Why do I have to pay to complete the FAFSA?
You don’t! You never have to pay to complete the FAFSA. After all, the first “F” in FAFSA stands for FREE! There are companies that will charge you a fee to file your FAFSA, but you can always complete the FAFSA for free on the official government website: fafsa.gov. (Notice the .GOV!) If you need help with the application, we have resources available for free.
How can I complete the FAFSA if my parents or I haven’t filed my 2014 taxes yet?
When filling out the 2015-16 FAFSA, you’ll want to use financial information from the 2014 tax year. At this point in the year, many people haven’t received their Form W-2, let alone completed their 2014 taxes. But that shouldn’t stop you from completing the FAFSA! If you or your parents have not completed your taxes yet, you can estimate your income and other tax return information, and then correct your application after you have filed your taxes.
If your 2014 income is similar to your 2013 income, use your 2013 tax return to provide estimates for questions about your income. If your income is not similar, use the Income Estimator for assistance estimating your adjusted gross income, and answer the remaining questions about your income to the best of your ability.
Note: Once you complete your 2014 taxes, you’ll need to update your FAFSA. When you do so, you may be eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to access the IRS tax return information needed to complete the FAFSA, and transfer the data directly into your FAFSA from the IRS website.
When is the FAFSA deadline?
States, schools, and the federal government each have their own FAFSA filing deadlines. It is important that you research all of these deadlines and complete the FAFSA by your earliest deadline. That being said, because some types of aid are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, it is highly recommended that you fill out the FAFSA as soon as you can to ensure that you do not miss out on available aid.
Do I have to complete the FAFSA every year?
Yes, you need to fill out the FAFSA each school year because your eligibility for financial aid can differ from year to year for various reasons, including your family’s financial situation and the number of your family members enrolled in college. If you filled out a FAFSA last year and want to renew it, go to fafsa.gov, click “Login”, and be sure to select “FAFSA Renewal” once given the option. That way, many of the (nonfinancial) questions will be pre-filled for you. Just be sure to update any information that has changed since last year.
Which FAFSA should I complete?
When you log into www.fafsa.gov, you will be given two different options: “Start a 2014-15 FAFSA” and “Start a 2015-16 FAFSA.” Which should you choose?
If you’ll be attending college between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015, select “Start a 2014-15 FAFSA.”
If you’ll be attending college between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016, select “Start a 2015-16 FAFSA.”
Remember, you must complete the FAFSA each school year, so if you’ll be attending college during both periods of time, you should fill out both applications.
TIP: If you need to fill out both applications, complete the 2014-15 FAFSA first. That way, when you complete the 2015-16 FAFSA, a lot of your info will automatically roll over.
If you are applying for a summer session, or just don’t know which application to complete, check with the college you are planning to attend.
We hope that helps answer some of your questions. If you have additional questions about the FAFSA, you can send us your questions via Facebook and Twitter. For more information about completing the FAFSA, visit StudentAid.gov/fafsa.
Nicole Callahan is a Digital Engagement Strategist at Federal Student Aid.