Dad helping his daughter with the FAFSA.The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) opens in October, and filling out the form is the most vital step in applying for federal grants, work study, and loans. Some of you might be new to the process or maybe it has been a while since you’ve filled one out. I’ve compiled the top financial aid questions to help you through this process.

Now buckle up, let’s go!

How do I apply for financial aid?

The FAFSA is your application for federal, state, and college-based financial aid.  Apply each year after October 1 at StudentAid.gov.

Should I apply for federal financial aid if I “know” I won’t qualify?

Even if you don’t qualify for grants and work-study, you must complete the FAFSA to apply for federal student and/or parent loans, which are available regardless of need. Also, many colleges use the FAFSA to award institutional aid.

What is a Student Aid Account (FSA ID)?

It is a username and password required to electronically sign and submit the FAFSA. Create a Student Aid Account prior to completing the FAFSA.

What if I forgot my Student Aid Account username and password?

You can reset them at StudentAid.gov with your email, cell phone (text message), or by answering your challenge questions.

Will my parents use the same Student Aid Account for me and my siblings who are also in college?

Yes.  A parent will use the same Student Aid Account for each child’s form.

What if I (or my parents) did not file an income tax return?

When you complete your FAFSA, select the “I’m not going to file” option and the form will skip the federal income tax information. Note: colleges may ask if other untaxed income was received.

If my parents refuse to provide their information for the FAFSA, can I still get federal financial aid?

Yes, however, you will only be eligible for the Unsubsidized Direct Loan, which means all interest is paid by you, (the borrower) and accrues while you are in school. Make sure your parents understand that providing their information on the FAFSA in no way obligates them to pay for your schooling – it only determines how much you are eligible to receive.

What happens after I submit the FAFSA?

Within 3-5 days after you submit your FAFSA, expect a Student Aid Report (SAR) via email from Federal Student Aid. It tells you that your FAFSA was processed, if further action is required, and if you’re selected for verification.

Have more questions about the financial aid process? Check out our Financial Aid FAQs on our website for more help!