Free Application for Federal Student Aid
In order to receive Federal Student Aid, a student must complete the FAFSA (Federal Application for Federal Student Aid) prior to each academic year of college.
The FAFSA is a Department of Education program through the Federal Student Aid Office. The FAFSA is responsible for distributing $80 billion to 14 million students annually. Overall the program has a $400 billion loan portfolio. The money typically does not come directly from the government, but through the college or university you are attending.
Note: Most colleges require students to complete the FAFSA regardless if the student will be receiving federal aid.
How to Complete the FAFSA
Step One: Know Your Dates
The FAFSA opens on October 1 of each year, which means students can complete their FAFSA in October of their senior year.
March 1 serves as the Michigan Priority Deadline. This means money for Michigan students begins to be dispersed on March 2. Students can still complete the FAFSA after March 1, however the amount of aid that can be offered will be less than if the FAFSA was completed before March 1.
Step Two: Gather Necessary Information & Materials
Social Security Numbers - for both the student and one parent/guardian. The parent/guardian must claim the student on their taxes. WHO’S MY PARENT WHEN I FILL OUT THE FAFSA?
Student & Parent Driver License Number (If you don’t have a driver’s license, then don’t worry about this one.)
Prior-Prior Year Tax Records
Records of Untaxed Income
Records of Your Assets
List of Schools You Are Interested in Attending
You may, but are not required to, prepare for completing the FAFSA by completing the FAFSA WORKSHEET.
Step Three: Apply for FSA ID’s
Your FSA ID is used to sign legally binding documents electronically. It has the same legal status as a written signature. An FSA ID is a username and password that you must use to log in to certain U.S. Department of Education (ED) websites. Your FSA ID identifies you as someone who has the right to access your own personal information on ED websites such as the FAFSA.
It’s important to understand that the student and their parent/guardian may not share an FSA ID. Your FSA ID is your signature, so it has to be unique to you.
If you are a parent of a dependent student, you will need your own FSA ID if you want to sign your child's FAFSA form electronically. If you have more than one child attending college, you can use the same FSA ID to sign all applications, but each child must have his or her own.
Step Four: Complete the FAFSA