If you plan to attend college in 2018-19, you can apply for financial aid NOW! Hard to believe, I know, but you can complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) on or after October 1. The form will ask for 2016 tax data so that information will be easy to access. Follow these steps to apply for federal financial aid:

Step 1: Create an FSA ID.

Both you and a parent will create separate FSA IDs at fsaid.ed.gov.  The FSA ID (Federal Student Aid ID) is a username and password that you’ll need for the FAFSA and to apply for federal student loans. You will each need an email address to create an FSA ID.

Step 2: Complete the FAFSA. 

The FAFSA is your application for federal, state, and college-based financial aid.  Complete the form at fafsa.gov. The colleges you list on the application will receive the results and will use that information to award financial aid.

Apply on or after October 1, but before the colleges’ priority dates, to get the best financial aid package. Renew the FAFSA every year you’re in college. Use our FAFSA Tools to make completing the FAFSA easier.

Step 3: Expect a SAR.

You’ll receive the SAR (Student Aid Report) via an email link 3-5 days after you submit the FAFSA. The SAR acknowledges that your FAFSA was received — and if you need to take further action to process your FAFSA.

Step 4: Watch for a Verification Request.

The college(s) might request verification of your FAFSA information. If so, send the required documents to the college financial aid office.

Step 5: Compare Award Notifications. 

Expect a financial aid award notification from the colleges you listed on the FAFSA — if you were accepted for admission. It will detail the assistance they’re offering based on your financial need or FAFSA results. Respond to all award notifications by the deadlines.

Compare financial aid awards to determine what you would need to spend out-of-pocket or borrow in student and/or parent loans at each school to cover the full cost of your education.

Step 6: Apply for Student Loans

If you need student loans, your college will direct you to StudentLoans.gov to complete the necessary forms. Allow several weeks processing time.

Step 7: Apply for Scholarships.

Start searching for scholarships in the spring of your junior or the fall of your senior year. Follow these tips to find scholarships:

If you need help completing the FAFSA or have questions about any step of the process, contact the EducationQuest office nearest you. Our services are free!

Omaha: 888.357.6300 | Lincoln: 800.303.3745 | Kearney: 800.666.3721 | Scottsbluff: 800.303.3745, ext 6654