If your financial circumstances have changed due to COVID-19, you should still complete the FAFSA® based on the information in your tax return. Then contact the colleges where you are applying to discuss any changes. Click here for more information.

The term FAFSA may spark visions of mountains of paperwork, but the application takes most families under 30 minutes to complete. The time you’ll spend understanding and completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid puts you in a position to reap financial rewards. 

Just look at Middle Tennessee State University student Ari Johnson, who initially dismissed the application, then ended up securing $10,000 in grants, scholarships and federal loans for her freshman year. 

Unfortunately, it’s all too common to assume you won’t qualify for aid because of your family’s financial situation, background or other personal circumstances and skip the application entirely. According to an analysis by NerdWallet, families who didn’t complete the FAFSA left a whopping $2.6 billion in free grant money on the table. As the old saying goes, you’ve got to be in it to win it.

Before you get to work on the FAFSA, you can find out how prepared you are by taking this quiz.

Bottom line? The FAFSA could help alleviate some of the financial burden of college, and you should complete it every year you are in college because most people qualify for some aid. For more handy tips, check out our FAFSA assistant, which will give you guidance and tips to completing the application based on your individual situation.

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