We're here to help you navigate financial aid and the FAFSA application.

Try our free FAFSA assistant.

The first step in determining your eligibility for college financial aid is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Just tell us a bit about yourself and we'll provide guidance to help you complete the FAFSA® application.

  1. 1.   Answer a few questions
  2. 2.   Get helpful tips
  3. 3.   Complete the FAFSA
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The FAFSA assistant is not an application for federal student aid and is not affiliated with the Department of Education.

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Financial Aid Timeline

A quick look at key steps and when they typically happen.


Complete the FAFSA

To be considered for federal student aid (and state aid in some cases), you need to complete the FAFSA. You should complete the application even if you don't think you qualify, since most people are eligible for some aid.

Some schools award funds on a first-come, first-served basis, so the sooner you can file the FAFSA, the better. The FAFSA deadline is June 30, 2016. Many states and colleges have earlier deadlines. Apply at FAFSA.ed.gov.


Receive Your SAR

Your Student Aid Report (SAR) is a summary of the information you provided on your FAFSA and includes your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). If you filed your FAFSA electronically, you can expect to receive your SAR within 3 to 5 days.

Your EFC is the amount the government believes your family can contribute toward your education costs. Schools use this number to determine how much financial aid they will award you.


Compare Award Letters

Starting in late March, the schools that accepted you will send an award letter, which may include grants, scholarships, work-study and eligibility for federal loans.

To determine what financial aid package works best for you, compare award letters from each school you were accepted to. Keep in mind that if your financial situation has changed since you submitted the FAFSA, you do have options to appeal your award letter.


Time to Decide

If you haven't been accepted by early decision, notify all schools that have extended you an offer of your intent by May 1. Make sure you send in your deposit to the college you've selected prior to the deadline.


January 1

The first day FAFSA is available.

Know Your Deadlines

Individual schools have different aid deadlines so make sure to respond to yours in time.

Apply for Scholarships

Continue to seek any free money that may be available to you.

Video Playlist

This series of videos covers key steps in the financial aid process.

Read Up on Financial Aid

Additional resources on financial aid.