There have been some technical issues and delays this year, as well as changes to the form. Don't give up! Financial aid is available, but you do need to apply. Get help navigating the 2024-25 FAFSA.
- Get Started
- FAFSA Myths Busted
- CSS Profile
- Helpful Financial Aid Resources
- Common Questions
Free Application for Federal Student Aid is used to apply for federal financial aid. By submitting FAFSA forms, students become eligible for federal loans, grants, and work-study funds. Applicants must provide financial information alongside demographic details.
FAFSA must be filled out every academic year for as long as students are in school. Applicants must be citizens of the United States or eligible non-U.S. citizens, hold a valid Social Security number, and have a high school diploma or equivalent. Alongside federal grants, loans, and work-study aid, the FAFSA is also used to determine eligibility for state and institutional scholarships.
How Does the FAFSA Work?
To fill out an online FAFSA, students must first create a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID. When applying, students need a Social Security number, details about family and personal income, and a list of their prospective schools. After filling it out, students should double-check the form to ensure accuracy. After the form is digitally signed, all selected schools will receive the application.
Once the Department of Education has evaluated their applications, each candidate receives an offer of aid, which varies by student. Financial aid options include loans, grants, scholarships, and work-study awards, all of which a student can accept or reject. After accepting aid, each learner receives a notification of the disbursement date.
Students also receive an expected family contribution (EFC) number, which is the amount of money the FAFSA determined that the student or their family could afford to pay toward college tuition. The amount of aid a student receives is directly tied to their EFC.
What Kinds of Aid Can I Qualify For?
By submitting FAFSA forms, students apply for federal loans, grants, and work-study funds. The amount of financial aid they receive varies significantly based on individual circumstances.
- Grants: Federal grants are financial awards that recipients do not need to repay, provided they adhere to the grant's conditions. Individuals within specific demographic groups, such as women and minorities, can often receive grants specific to them. Individual states and institutions also offer grants.
- Loans: Loans offered through FAFSA fall into several categories. Students can receive loans based on factors like cost of attendance or financial need. Recipients must repay loans after graduation, and each type of loan carries different repayment requirements.
- Work-Study: Work-study programs offer students money in exchange for working on campus. Only some jobs qualify as work-study positions, and most institutions limit the number of hours a student can work each week.
- Scholarships: Scholarships are funds you receive usually based on academic merit (GPA or test scores). You do not have to repay these funds. These typically require another application in addition to the FAFSA.
Click here to start your FAFSA application.
To streamline the process, we encourage you to prepare as much as possible in advance, ensuring a smooth and efficient FAFSA submission. Some tips include:
- Create an account with Federal Student Aid (FSA), if you have not done so already, to receive your FSA ID (needed both for students and contributors).
- View FSA informational videos about the 2024-25 FAFSA, and
- Gather documents such as Social Security numbers, tax returns, W-2 forms, and other relevant financial information such as asset net valuation (investment, business, or farm).
By proactively preparing, you contribute to the efficient processing of your financial aid package.
Many students don’t fill out the FAFSA because they think they’re not eligible, won’t get any financial aid, that it’s too complicated, or that it only impacts federal aid. We’ve busted these myths and more. Filling out the FAFSA has many benefits. Fill it out now so you don’t risk missing out on free money or low-interest student loans!
Myth #1: I’ll never qualify for any financial aid because my family makes too much.
Almost everyone qualifies for some type of aid, even if it is a loan. The federal government doesn’t have an income cutoff for financial aid, so you won’t know what you’ll qualify for unless you file the FAFSA. There’s a lot more that’s considered than income, such as the size of your family, whether your parents are close to retirement, whether you have siblings in college, and the price of tuition at the schools you’re applying to.
When you apply for the FAFSA, you are applying for both need-based aid (the Pell Grant, Federal Work Study programs, Federal Grants and subsidized loans) as well as non-need-based aid (unsubsidized student loans, the Direct PLUS Loan and Grad PLUS Loan). Even if you aren’t eligible for need-based federal aid, you’ll still want to file a FAFSA to get access to some student loans, and any aid that your university may award that requires a FAFSA.
Myth #2: The FAFSA is so complicated that it’s not worth the trouble.
Again, if you don’t fill it out, you can’t reap the rewards. Plus, the new 2024-25 form has greatly simplified the process. You can save yourself at least part of the headache by skipping the intimidating paper version and filling out the FAFSA online. You’ll also have an easier time if you (or in the case of dependent students, your parents) have everything you need on hand, including your most recent tax return. You can use estimates based on a previous year’s taxes if you or your parents haven’t filed yet, but filing your taxes first will save you from having to update the FAFSA later.
Myth #3: The FAFSA only affects my federal student aid.
While it’s true that filling out a FAFSA is the only way you’ll be able to receive federal student aid, Universities also uses the FAFSA to assess your eligibility for non-federal aid programs. Private and state organizations that award scholarships and grants often also use the FAFSA to help determine your eligibility.
Don’t miss out, submit the FAFSA today!
Article found @ Portland State University
State Financial Aid for Undocumented Students and Other Select Applicants
The Washington Application for State Financial Aid (WASFA) is for people who don’t file a federal FAFSA application. If you have completed the FAFSA, you have already applied for federal and state financial aid and do not need to complete the WASFA unless your college asks you to.
A person should complete the WASFA if they are undocumented or do not qualify for federal financial aid because of their immigration status. The WASFA can also be used in limited circumstances by other select applicants who cannot or choose not to file a FAFSA.
People who complete a WASFA are applying only for state aid. If you are eligible for federal aid, you should complete the FAFSA in order to maximize financial aid awards.
Should you complete a FAFSA or a WASFA?
If you are unsure if you should complete a FAFSA or a WASFA, complete the WASFA Eligibility Questionnaire.
To find out if you qualify for state financial aid, complete the free WASFA. Your college or program will let you know if you meet state financial aid requirements after they review your WASFA. Be sure to check your email regularly for communications from your college or training program.
CLICK HERE to start the WASFA application
Some schools use the CSS Profile in addition to the FAFSA.
The profile is completed through the College Board. Families will use cssprofile.collegeboard.org to find out more and to file the form.
To figure out if your school requires the CSS Profile, check both the site linked above for the most updated list and each college's website. Look under the Financial Aid section to find out the required applications (FAFSA / WASFA only or FAFSA and CSS Profile) and the deadlines.