Follow these steps to apply for federal financial aid and scholarships:
Step 1. Apply for scholarships.
Follow these tips for scholarship success:
- Research potential awards by using free scholarship-search resources including your school counselor, the college you plan to attend, ScholarshipQuest, and other free internet-based scholarship searches.
- Complete an Activities Resume so you’ll have a list of your activities, honors, and awards handy when completing applications.
- Create a list of scholarships you’re eligible to apply for. Tackle the most difficult applications first and pay attention to deadlines. If you miss a deadline, your application will not be considered.
- Request letters of recommendation from adults who know you well. Give them plenty of notice, a deadline, information about the scholarship, and a copy of your Activities Resume.
Step 2. Create an FSA ID.
A Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID is a username and password that will serve as your electronic signature for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You and a parent must each create IDs at fsaid.ed.gov.
Step 3. Complete the FAFSA.
The FAFSA is your application for federal, state, and college-based financial aid. Complete the form at fafsa.gov on or after October 1 of your senior year.
The colleges you list on the application will use your FAFSA information to award financial aid. Submit the form before the colleges’ FAFSA priority date to get the best financial aid package.
- After you submit your FAFSA, expect a Student Aid Report (SAR) via an email link. It tells you that your FAFSA was received – and lets you know if you were selected for verification.
- Renew the FAFSA every year you’re in college.
- Use our free FAFSA Tools to help you prepare for and complete the FAFSA.
Step 4. Be Prepared for Verification.
Watch your student account and email closely as the college(s) might request verification of your FAFSA information. The college(s) will not process your financial aid package until you provide required documents.
Step 5. Expect a Financial Aid Award Notification.
The colleges you listed on your FAFSA will notify you of the types and amounts of financial aid they’re offering you. You will only receive notifications from colleges that accepted you for admission. Accept or reject the financial aid package by the deadline.
The colleges will use this “financial need” formula to calculate how much to award you in financial aid:
Cost of Education (tuition, books, living expenses)
– Expected Family Contribution (your FAFSA result)
Your Financial Need
The colleges will award you as much of the “financial need” amount as possible. This could be a combination of scholarships, grants, work-study, and loans.