FAFSA – Applying for Student Aid

  • February 16, 2017
  • By: Greenpath Financial Wellness

We all know that college is becoming more and more expensive. This makes student loans and other types of help even more important. But how do you access this help? A FAFSA application form can be the first step.

FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, must be filled out in order to receive federal student assistance. Many states and schools also use the FAFSA as part of their application process for non-federal aid.

About the FAFSA

The FAFSA is a form that requires you to provide a significant amount of information about your family’s finances. This includes income, taxes, assets, family size, and the number of family members attending college.

When to Submit the FAFSA

Students should submit the FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1 of the year they are requesting aid. Also, if students apply before January 1 or do not include a Social Security number, their application will not be processed.

How to Submit

You can submit the FAFSA online or mail a paper form. There is no charge to submit a FAFSA.

Steps to Complete

Follow these steps and you can complete your FAFSA online in about an hour or two.

  • Step 1. Locate your Social Security number.  If you submit the FAFSA without it, your application won’t be processed.
  • Step 2. Request a PIN. If you plan to submit your FAFSA online, you can request a PIN from the U.S. Department of Education. With a PIN, you can apply and sign the FAFSA online. You can also check the status of your FAFSA and make corrections.
  • Step 3. Research state and college deadlines.  Colleges and states have deadlines that tend to be earlier than the federal deadline. They may require an application in addition to FAFSA.  Play it safe.  If you’re interested in certain colleges, make sure you know their requirements.
  • Step 4. Use the FAFSA on the Web Worksheet.  This tool will help you gather information needed for the official FAFSA.  Worksheets are available from
    from a high school’s guidance office, public libraries and online at studentaid.gov.
  • Step 5. Complete the FAFSA online.  Complete your FAFSA application online at fafsa.ed.gov.  Apply as soon as you can after January 1, because funding may be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

If the information you submit on the FAFSA is inaccurate, the U.S. Department of Education will return your form.  This will delay your application and could impact your financial aid award.

It may be helpful to review your student loan options. Our financial wellness experts can help you. Call the GreenPath Student Loan Helpline to get started today.