If you're dreading completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), take a deep breath and relax. It takes a little time, but it’s not as difficult as you may think. Moreover, completing the FAFSA is free — and it could help you get the extra funding you need to pay for college.
If you follow these basic steps and tips for completing the FAFSA, you could complete your FAFSA online in as little as an hour or two.
Step 1: Get a Social Security number (SSN)
If you submit the FAFSA without a SSN, your application will not be processed.
Step 2: Request a PIN
If you plan to complete and submit your FAFSA online, you (and one of your parents) can request a PIN from the U.S. Department of Education. With a PIN, you can apply and “sign” the FAFSA online, check the status of your submitted FAFSA, and make corrections.
Step 3: Note state and college deadlines and requirements
College and state deadlines tend to be earlier than the federal deadline (many are as early as February or March) and may require an application in addition to the FAFSA. Play it safe — collect this information and take note of any applicable due dates early in the application process.
Step 4: Access FAFSA Online
Complete your FAFSA on the internet, and apply as soon as you can (after January 1st) — funding can be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.
Additional information regarding the completion of the FAFSA can be found at the Browse Help section of the FAFSA website.