To apply for federal student aid, such as federal grants, work-study, and loans, you need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is the starting application point for the largest sources of financial aid to pay for college.
Keep in mind that the application is not only used to determine the student’s eligibility for need-based federal student aid. State governments, and some colleges and universities use the FAFSA information to determine eligibility for state and institutional aid.
The FAFSA typically becomes available on October 1 of the year before the academic year for which the student is seeking aid. Because of variations in state and college financial aid ﬁling deadlines, the sooner you file the FAFSA after October 1, the better. Keep track of all of the deadlines, and get a head start to avoid missing out on available aid.
No, the FAFSA is free.
Yes, many people assume that they won't qualify for financial aid because they make too much money (or their parents do), because their grades are not high enough, or lots of other reasons. But, you won't know for sure unless you try.
Even if your household income is too high for you to qualify for federal grants or work-study funds, remember that the FAFSA is also used to determine federal student loan eligibility. There's no harm in applying, and on average, it takes less than one hour to ﬁll out the FAFSA.
While the FAFSA is the most commonly required financial aid form at most colleges and is often the only form required, be sure to check with your preferred colleges. Some colleges add to the FAFSA with their own financial aid forms or the CSS Profile form that asks additional questions. Find out what types of additional forms are required, and keep track of all of the deadlines.
You have three options for completing the FAFSA: FAFSA on the Web, MyStudentAid mobile app, or the paper PDF version.
First, the student and the parents (if applicable) should apply for an FSA ID, allowing you to log on to the Department of Education’s web sites, including the FAFSA web site and StudentLoans.gov.
Yes, you need to ﬁll out the FAFSA to reapply for financial aid each year, because your eligibility for aid can differ from year to year for various reasons.
The value of the 529 college savings plans is reported as a parental asset on the FAFSA form. The total value for all of the dependent children needs to be reported. Parental assets are assessed at a relatively low percentage rate in the needs analysis process.
The total number of students enrolled in college is taken into account when calculating the family’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC). For most colleges, the parent portion of the EFC amount is divided by the number of family members enrolled in college. This often results in greater financial need and eligibility for need-based financial aid.
Here are a handful of key tips to consider.
The FAFSA Simplification Act, passed by Congress in December 2020, is bringing changes to the federal financial aid process and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form itself. Being aware of these changes is important for education planning and funding.
The new FAFSA associated with these changes is slated to be implemented for the 2024–2025 academic year, although there are a few minor changes that will occur earlier. Keep in mind that understanding how the timing of family finances impacts potential financial aid is key. Financial information required on the FAFSA is based on the “prior-prior” tax year (referred to as the base year). For example, the 2022–2023 FAFSA will be based on income information from the 2020 tax return. Because the FAFSA changes are anticipated to go into effect in 2024, families may want to consider their income information in 2022 and how future changes may impact their planning.
Families filing for financial aid for 2022-2023 or any year — especially those filing for the first time — will want to get their records organized (tax returns, etc.) so the process can go more smoothly and the FAFSA can be filed in a timely manner. The 2022-2023 FAFSA application becomes available on 10/1/2021. It’s generally better to file early. Filing early can potentially increase the likelihood of receiving a scholarship or grant.
Please note that the above information is believed to be accurate, is not exhaustive, and is subject to change from time to time. Some details may not apply to your specific circumstances.
Determine your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) for the 2022–2023 school year
The difference between the cost of college and the EFC determines the student's eligibility for need-based financial aid.
|2-Year Public College||4-Year Public College (In-state)||4-Year Private College|
|National Average Cost||$18,550||$26,820||$54,880|
|Your Estimated EFC (Federal Methodology)|
|Estimated Financial Need|
FINANCIAL AID PERSPECTIVE
The following assumptions are made when calculating the student's Expected Family Contribution (EFC):
Households contain one parent if Parent 2 Income field is left blank.
Independent students are single, separated or divorced if Spouse's Income is left blank.
Students do not qualify for the simplified EFC formulas, which don't take into account contribution from assets (cash, savings, investments, and businesses).
Dependent students qualify for the simplified EFC formula if the parents' adjusted gross income (AGI) for 2020 was $49,999 or less, and one of the following is true:
Independent students may qualify for the simplified EFC formula if the student's (and spouse's, if any) combined income for 2020 was $49,999 or less, and one of the following is true:
Students do not qualify for an automatic zero EFC calculation.
Dependent students may qualify for an automatic zero EFC calculation if the parents' adjusted gross income (AGI) for 2020 was $27,000 or less, and one of the following is true:
Independent students with dependents other than their spouse may qualify for an automatic zero EFC calculation if the student's (and spouse, if any) combined income for 2020 was $27,000 or less, and one of the following is true:
The Financial Aid Calculator is intended to provide an estimate of a student's Expected Family Contribution (EFC) using the Federal Methodology based on (a) the Department of Education's The EFC Formula, 2022–2023 document which is located on the Federal Student Aid Website, (b) assumptions with regard to the type of formula used and (c) information provided by the user.
The Financial Aid Calculator is supplied by Invite Education, LLC and Invite Education, LLC does not guarantee the accuracy, suitability or usefulness of these results, and shall not be responsible for any investment or trading decisions, gains or losses, or advice as a result of them.
Please consult investment, tax or legal advisors for qualified professional advice in these areas.
Use this calculator to gain insight into your potential financial aid eligibility and to estimate your family’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
New Check out FAFSA and Financial Aid Changes on the Horizon in results.