The Free Application for Federal Student Aid—or FAFSA—is your ticket to college financial aid. You must complete and file the FAFSA on time to qualify for financial aid from the federal government, the State of Indiana and from the college you plan to attend.
What is the FAFSA?
The FAFSA is the gold standard for determining your eligibility for financial aid, money to help you pay for college. The easiest way to file the FAFSA is online at FAFSA.gov. If you prefer to mail your FAFSA, a printer-friendly PDF also is available at FAFSA.gov.
After filing your FAFSA, your college will be able to tell you which scholarships and grants you could receive as well as how much money you can borrow in federal loans such as the Parent PLUS loan.
Who should file the FAFSA?
Anyone who will be enrolled in college the following fall should file the FAFSA, including high school seniors and returning college students. You should file the FAFSA even if you’re not sure if you will enroll, or if you are currently in college. You’ll never know your financial aid package if you don’t file the FAFSA. And if you fail to file, you could lose scholarships and other financial aid you currently have.
21st Century Scholars must file the FAFSA each year following high school graduation even if you’re not attending college for that academic year. The FAFSA filing keeps the 21st Century Scholarship active.
What’s the deadline?
In order to receive state financial aid, you should file the FAFSA by March 10. The form is available January 1. Check with your college or the colleges you hope to attend to make sure they don’t have an earlier deadline. Some colleges also have additional financial aid paperwork, so make sure you aren’t missing anything important.
Corrections to the FAFSA for state financial aid purposes are due by May 15. If you aren’t able to provide actual tax information by March 10 (for example, if your parents haven’t completed their income taxes yet), you should still file with estimated information. Make sure you make necessary adjustments by May 15.
What do I need to file the FAFSA?
If you are under 23, you will need your parents’ information as well as yours. The information you will need for the FAFSA includes:
- Your Social Security number (can be found on a Social Security card)
- Your driver’s license number (if you have a driver’s license)
- Your and/or your parents’ most recent federal tax returns (IRS forms 1040, 1040EZ or 1040A)
- Records of money earned, including W-2 forms and recent bank statements
- Alien registration numbers or permanent residence cards, if you or your parents are not U.S. citizens
Print off a FAFSA Checklist from the Office of Federal Student Aid to make sure you have everything.
Determine who counts as your parent for the FAFSA with the “Who is My Parent on the FAFSA?” handout from the Office of Federal Student Aid.
What happens after I file my FAFSA?
You can read about the financial aid process from Learn More Indiana.
How can I get an estimate of my financial aid before filing the FAFSA?
The Indiana College Costs Estimator provides estimated financial aid packages for any college in Indiana. See which colleges are most likely to give you scholarships and find out how much you might be able to borrow in federal loans such as the Parent PLUS loan.
You can also use the FAFSA4Caster tool to estimate your eligibility for federal student aid, for example if you are a high school junior.
Which colleges should I include on my FAFSA?
You should include any college that you think you might attend in the fall. Remember that if you apply for several colleges, you may not be accepted at your top choice. You should always apply for at least one school that you know will accept you.
You will need each college’s federal school code. You can find codes at FAFSA.gov.
What if I have other questions?
If Learn More Indiana’s FAFSA Friday video doesn’t answer your questions, visit the FAFSA help page from FAFSA.gov. You’ll find answers to common questions as well as learn how to chat online with a FAFSA representative, call their helpline or email them.
You can also check out our links to helpful FAFSA-related websites, such as FAFSA information for adult students or veterans.