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If you’re a college-bound student or the parent of one, the Federal Application for Student Aid® (FAFSA) is something you’re going to need to complete. Haven’t started yet? Not to worry: there’s still time, and this quick primer will help get you going.

What’s the FAFSA?

The FAFSA is a form used to determine the type of financial aid package given to a student attending college. The information gathered in the FAFSA will determine student eligibility for grants, work-study programs and loan amounts. If you or your student plans to obtain federal student aid to help with college tuition costs, there’s no time to lose.

Stuff you’ll need. 

Collect the following information to properly complete the FAFSA:

  • Your Social Security Number.
  • Your Alien Registration Number (if you are not a U.S. citizen).
  • Your most recent federal income tax returns, W-2s, and other records of money earned. (Note: You may be able to transfer your federal tax return information into your FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.)
  • Bank statements and records of investments (if applicable).
  • Records of untaxed income (if applicable).
  • An FSA ID to sign electronically.

Once you’ve gathered this information, double-check its accuracy. Any false or incomplete information submitted on the FAFSA may delay the application process, resulting in lost financial aid opportunities.

Know the deadlines.

Federal Student Aid

  • For the 2016–17 year, applications are due June 30, 2017.
  • For the 2017–18 year, applications are due June 30, 2018 — although you will be able to apply earlier, starting Oct. 1, 2016. (More about changes to the FAFSA process for 2017-18 year is below.)

State Student Aid

  • State resource deadlines vary; you can find information at fafsa.gov or on the here.

College or School

  • These deadlines are typically early in the year (often in February or March). Check the school's website of contact its financial aid office for assistance.

Changes to the FAFSA process for 2017-18 and beyond.

Applications Available Earlier

Students will be able to access and submit FAFSAs as early as October 1, rather than waiting until January 1 of the following year. The earlier access and submission date will be a permanent change.

Use of Earlier Income and Tax Information

Beginning with the 2017–18 FAFSA, students will be required to report income and tax information from an earlier tax year. For example, on the 2017–18 FAFSA, students (and parents, as appropriate) will report 2015 — not 2016 — income and tax information.

To learn more about these changes, read College Students and Parents: What You Need to Know About the 2017-18 FAFSA.

How to submit the FAFSA.

Go to fafsa.ed.gov and select “Start A New FAFSA.” Or, you can complete and submit your FAFSA directly from your Kuder Navigator® or Kuder Journey®account. The systems even pre-populate the form with basic information from your profile!

Need help or have questions about the FAFSA? Check out the Federal Student Aid Office’s #AskFAFSA Office Hours on Twitter. Each month, they feature a different topic related to financial aid. Don’t have Twitter? You can still watch the conversation live. 

The post FAFSA facts you need to know! appeared first on Kuder.


  1. college and career readiness
  2. financial aid

About The Author

Stephanie Sherrod

Stephanie Sherrod is a marketing manager for Kuder. Before joining the company in 2015, she spent 15 years as a consultant, writer, and editor for organizations in varying industries, including a major textbook publisher in Chicago, Illinois. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Io ... read more

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