How Do You Apply for Federal Student Aid?


Quick Answer

Use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to apply for federal student aid, according to the U.S. Department of Education. It is important to fill it out every year to maintain eligibility. Because some programs have limited funds, students are encouraged to apply as early as possible.

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Full Answer

The Department of Education recommends filling out and submitting the FAFSA online because it processes such applications in three to five days, as of 2015. Applicants have the option of filling out PDF formats and ordering paper versions. Print applications take seven to 10 days to process. Some financial aid offices at colleges and career schools help students fill out FAFSAs and submit them.

Filling out the FAFSA online includes getting an ID, user name and password for electronic signature of the FAFSA and other documents, says the Department of Education. Information that the FAFSA application requires includes the applicant's Social Security number, the Social Security numbers of his parents if he is a dependent student, federal tax data and records on untaxed income and savings. Filling out the FAFSA means a student is also applying for some types of state aid, and depending on the state, he may need to submit further information in a separate application. He has the option of transferring FAFSA data to the state aid application.

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