The FAFSA® Process

Once you understand the FAFSA® process, you'll be able to better inform students. Familiarize yourself with our in-depth FAFSA information and then use the tips and tools on this page to guide your students.

The FAFSA Process

Once you're ready to help students and parents understand and fill out the application, use the tools and tips found on this page to assist with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) process.

We'll also keep you up to date on the latest FAFSA news, proposed changes for next year, etc.; and if you want FAFSA completion data by high school, we've got that too.

Send your students to StudentAid.gov/fillingout for an introduction to the FAFSA form and tips on how to fill it out.

Early Eligibility Indicator Tool: Federal Student Aid Estimator
Helping Students Learn About the FAFSA® Form
Financial Aid PowerPoint Presentations
Screenshots of fafsa.gov
FAFSA® Prototype
FAFSA® Demonstration Site
Getting a StudentAid.gov Account
Deadlines: When To Apply
Tips on Filling Out the FAFSA® Form
2024–25 FAFSA® Form
2023–24 FAFSA® Form
After Applying: Helping Students Understand and Respond to Aid Offers
Tools for Comparing Aid Offers
Verification


Early Eligibility Indicator Tool: Federal Student Aid Estimator

The Federal Student Aid Estimator helps potential applicant understand their options for paying for college or career school by providing them an early estimate of how much federal student aid—grant, work-study, and loan funds—they may be eligible for.

Federal Student Aid Estimator(Result Type: General)
Description: An aid calculator giving students an early estimate of federal student aid eligibility and helping them understand their options for paying for college.
Resource Type: Web Resource or Tool
Also Available in: Spanish(Result Type: General)

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Helping Students Learn About the FAFSA® Form

Before your students dive in to filling out the FAFSA form, you might want to give them an idea of what to expect. Below are some tools that will help you introduce the application to students.

Talking point: Remind students that the FAFSA form is a free application and is found at fafsa.gov.


Financial Aid PowerPoint Presentations

You'll find a selection of presentations on the Toolkit's "Search Financial Aid Tools and Resources" page. You can edit them to include information about your state's financial aid, scholarships available in your area, and so on, and use them at financial aid information events.


Screenshots of fafsa.gov

If you'd like to incorporate a preview of the online application into your PowerPoint presentation, you may wish to use some of the "screenshots" (images of web pages) that we provide each year to show highlights of the upcoming version of the FAFSA site.

2024–25 FAFSA® Form Preview Presentation(Result Type: General)
Description: Presentation providing screenshots of the 2024–25 FAFSA form. Feel free to use the screenshots as you compile your own presentations.
Resource Type: Presentation

2023–24 FAFSA® Form on StudentAid.gov Preview Presentation(Result Type: General)
Description: Presentation providing screenshots of the 2023–24 fafsa.gov application. Feel free to use the screenshots as you compile your own presentations.
Resource Type: Presentation


FAFSA® Prototype

The 2024–25 FAFSA prototype offers you an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the 2024–25 FAFSA user experience. The FAFSA prototype is not a complete replica of the 2024–25 FAFSA form. Instead, it's a web-based design tool that allows users to navigate specific scenarios that many 2024–25 applicants will encounter on the live website. Learn more about the FAFSA prototype and how to access it.


FAFSA® Demonstration Site

The 2023–24 FAFSA demonstration site is available so you can increase your own understanding of fafsa.gov and show it to students before they apply. At the FAFSA demo site, you can complete a sample FAFSA form, make corrections, or check the status of the form. However, when you choose "submit," the information is not actually submitted. The site is purely a learning tool.

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Getting a StudentAid.gov Account

We encourage students and parents to get their StudentAid.gov account before filling out the FAFSA form. Starting with the 2024–25 award year, every contributor—anyone (student, the student's spouse, a biological or adoptive parent, or the parent's spouse) who's required to provide information on the FAFSA form—will need a StudentAid.gov account before accessing and completing their section of the online form. Contributors will access their StudentAid.gov account by using their FSA ID (account username and password).

For the 2023–24 FAFSA form, students and parents can get a StudentAid.gov account either before or while filling out the FAFSA form at fafsa.gov.

Don't ask students to share their FSA IDs with you for safekeeping, even if you are helping them to apply for aid. The FSA ID must not be shared with anyone. If a student forgets their FSA ID, they can go to StudentAid.gov/login (or to any Federal Student Aid website that requires log-in) and follow the links that give the option of retrieving the account username or password via the student's verified email address or mobile phone number, or by successfully answering their challenge questions.

Tip: If a student thinks the Social Security Administration (SSA) might have their wrong name or date of birth in its records, the student should go to ssa.gov as soon as possible to find out how to correct any errors. If the student's information isn't correct in the SSA's records, the student can create a limited StudentAid.gov account, but they won't be able to sign their FAFSA form and provide consent and approval. Without consent and approval to have their federal tax information transferred into the FAFSA form, the student will not be eligible for federal student aid.

Tip: Contributors without a Social Security number (SSN) can create a StudentAid.gov account to fill out their portion of the student's 2024–25 FAFSA form online.

Find resources you can use to educate students and parents about the StudentAid.gov account.

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Deadlines: When To Apply

The 2024–25 FAFSA form is available for the award year that runs from July 1, 2024, to June 30, 2025. The 2023–24 FAFSA form became available on Oct. 1, 2022, for the award year that runs from July 1, 2023, to June 30, 2024. A student can submit the application any time until the end of the award year to apply for federal student aid. However, it's important to note that state higher education agencies and many colleges and career schools use FAFSA information to determine a student's eligibility for aid from their state or school funds. Therefore, the student should check StudentAid.gov/fafsa-deadlines for their state deadline and check the college's or career school's website for the school's deadline.