FAFSA Process - Iowa College Access Network - ICAN

FAFSA Process

What Is the FAFSA?

FAFSA stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA is a free form that may be completed without professional assistance via paper or electronic forms provided by the U.S. Department of Education.

To apply for federal financial aid, you need to fill out the FAFSA and return it to the U.S. Department of Education, which processes it and sends the information to the colleges you've listed on the form. Schools use the information to decide how much financial aid they will give you if you attend their institution.

Where Do I Get the FAFSA?

The FAFSA is available free electronically or in paper form.

Should I Pay for Help to Fill Out My FAFSA?

No. If you apply using FAFSA on the Web, you get online instructions for each question, and you can chat live with a customer service representative.

Other sources of free help include:

What Is the Deadline for the FAFSA?

For the next school year, submit your application as early as possible, but no earlier than Jan. 1. You will want to file the FAFSA before your college's financial aid priority deadline. After the deadline has passed, some aid programs may run out of funding.

How Can I Check the Status of My FAFSA?

At any point during the processing period, you can use your PIN to check the status of your FAFSA or to check on a correction you made to your FAFSA.

  • Go to www.fafsa.gov.
  • Select the second item in the right-hand column (under "FAFSA Follow-up"): "Check status of a submitted FAFSA."
  • Read the Check Status page, select "Next" at the bottom of the page, then enter the information required.

When Should I Check the Status of My FAFSA?

It's always a good idea to check the status of your application during the processing period, but you should check the status at least at the following times.

  • Three to five days after submission — if you used a PIN to e-sign your application.
  • Two to three weeks after submission — if you printed, signed and mailed a signature page.

Can I Add a School to My Form?

You can make the correction online with your PIN or you can contact the school you wish to add directly.

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