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  • The FAFSA is a form students and their parents fill out to apply for federal student aid.
  • Fill out the FAFSA as soon as possible after October 1 as some aid is awarded “first come, first served.”
  • Be prepared and have the required information and documents on hand when filling out the FAFSA.

What is the FAFSA?

The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is a form students and their parents fill out to apply for federal student aid like student loans, grants, and work-study. The application asks for financial information that the federal government uses to determine your Student Aid Index (SAI). Your SAI is a key factor to determine if you are eligible for financial aid. Even if you don’t anticipate being eligible for federal aid, you should still fill out the FAFSA, as it’s used to calculate state and institutional aid, including scholarships.

Why should you fill out the FAFSA as soon as possible?

The application for the following school year’s tuition becomes available on October 1. Each school you’re applying to could have a different deadline, so double-check to make sure you don’t miss any of them. Some aid is awarded “first come, first served,” so if you don’t get your application in early, you could miss out on money that could help pay for your education.

Your FAFSA checklist

Here's what you need to fill out the FAFSA


Your Social Security number

If you’re not a US citizen, you can use your Alien Registration Number instead.



It takes a couple of days to get one, so apply a few days before you plan to fill out the FAFSA. Parents and students each need their own IDs. 

Tax ID

Tax returns

You’ll need tax returns for both parents and students from two years before the academic year you’re seeking aid for.

Asset Records

Asset records

Both parents and students will need to gather bank and investment statements and records of any untaxed income. 

Schools List

A list of the schools you're applying to

You may not have finalized this list yet, but include any that you’re considering, up to 20. You can add more schools after you’ve submitted the FAFSA. The schools will receive this information and use it to determine your financial aid eligibility.


Your driver's license number

You will need to provide this information if you have a license.  If you don’t have one, don’t worry about it.  You can still submit your application.

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Find an hour and fill it out today

Filling out the FAFSA is the first step toward getting financial aid. It can seem a little overwhelming, but the whole process takes most people under an hour, even if it’s their first time doing it. And the earlier you fill it out, the better. Visit to start the process.

FAFSA® is a registered trademark of the US Department of Education and is not affiliated with Discover® Student Loans.

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