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How the FAFSA Works

Your guide to understanding the FAFSA, ASAP.

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The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the gateway for financial aid. It is a government document used to determine how much need-based aid you will receive in college. The process of filling it out may seem intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. Use this page as a resource to understand the FAFSA and what comes next.

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Filling Out the FAFSA

While it may seem overwhelming, the FAFSA is as simple as following prompts and answering a few questions. It should take you less than an hour to fill it out. The application opens on October 1 if you're entering school in fall 2020. It's best to fill it out as soon as possible. 

To cut down on the time it will take you to fill out the application, it is best to be prepared before you begin. Here's what you need to fill out the FAFSA:

1. Your social security number

2. Your federal income tax returns

3. W-2s

4. A FSA ID to sign electronically

5. A smartphone or computer

If you're a dependent student, then you'll also need most of the above information from your parents too. You can find the full lists of supplies on the FAFSA website.

Where to Fill It Out

You can fill out the FAFSA on the official website, fafsa.ed.gov, or on the new mobile app. Download the myStudentAid mobile app to access the FAFSA along with government loan and aid applications.

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