What is FAFSA, and why is it important?
Your friends at Common App are here to help make the college application process easier for you. We are sure you have heard a lot about the new FAFSA lately, and we want to make sure you understand what the FAFSA is and why it is important.
FAFSA stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. If you're a U.S. citizen or an eligible non-U.S. citizen, completing the FAFSA can help you pay for college. This free application allows you to apply for grants, loans, and work-study funds from the U.S. government.
If you are thinking about applying to and attending college, this application process can help you pay for college. Even if you think you may not qualify for federal aid, you should still apply because you may still be eligible for work-study and other loans. By applying, you are exploring what is available to you. You will see what types of aid are available and how much each offers. It is important to note that just because you are offered various types of aid, you do not need to accept them all. States and colleges also use information from your FAFSA to determine additional aid you may be eligible to receive.
Filing the FAFSA is an important annual process. If you are a returning college student, you will need to resubmit. If you are applying for financial aid in the 2024–25 school year, you should complete the 2024–25 FAFSA. This year, significant changes and improvements have been made to the application. To complete the FAFSA, you must create an account called a Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID).
Who needs to complete the FAFSA?
Your answer depends on your dependency status. If you are applying as a dependent, each student and parent/guardian must create their own FSA ID and link their accounts. The students should make their account first and invite their parents to their application. This will then allow the parents access and allow them to add their financial information to the application.
You will submit your own financial information if you are an independent student.
Please look at this Federal Student Aid site to determine your dependency status and learn more about the process, especially if you are applying for aid without your parents’/guardians' support.
Resources for you
Check out the following free resources to help you understand and navigate the FAFSA process.
- Common App Paying for College
Check out the Common App Paying for College page. This page has more information to help your financial planning process. On this page you will find information about:
- Financial planning for college
- Making college more affordable
- Wyatt Advisor
Wyatt is a digital advisor to students who can text their questions about the FAFSA. Students can also receive customized responses that help them complete their application. The Wyatt tool is free for students!
- FSA Youtube Page
The Federal Student Aid (FSA) YouTube channel shares step-by-step videos of information and resources related to the financial aid process. All information comes directly from the U.S. Department of Education. Their resources help make college education possible for everyone.
Don’t forget to stay connected with Common App to stay up to date with our work and for more information and resources to help with your college application process.