Skip to main content
I Can Succeed

College Budgets & Borrowing
When finalizing your financial aid, it's important to borrow responsibly. Research all your options and make an informed decision. Learn more.


Main Content

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is used to determine how much financial aid you qualify for. This form is sent to the colleges you list on the application so those schools can award financial aid based on your family's financial situation. State governments may also use the FAFSA to determine your eligibility for state 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. Filling out the FAFSA can be confusing. If you want assistance, contact ICAN for an appointment.

Why Does the Form Need to Be Filled Out?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) needs to be filled out (by you and your parents) every year you want to be considered for financial aid. The information on this form is used to decide how much financial aid you qualify for from the federal government, the state and colleges. Download the Why FAFSA flier for a detailed understanding of why you should fill out the form.

When Should It Be Filled Out?

The FAFSA becomes available to file during the fall of your senior year in high school. Once the form is released you should complete it before your college's financial aid priority date. A priority date is the date at which you will be considered to receive the maximum amount of financial aid for which you qualify at the colleges you applied and have been accepted to. Filing after the date, there is no guarantee the funds will be available, even if you would qualify to receive them. If you are considering more than one school, look up each school's date and file by the earliest. Look up financial aid priority dates for Iowa institutions.

Where Is the Form?

You can go online to to fill out an electronic form or you can use a paper form. It's a good idea to file the form electronically so mistakes aren't made by someone else inputting your information and so your form will be processed quickly.

What Materials Are Needed to Fill Out the Form?

You and your parents will need prior-prior federal tax returns and W-2 forms, plus current balance of checking, savings and investment statements. View ICAN's FAFSA Checklist (PDF) for a detailed list.

Is Help With the Form Available?

You can file the FAFSA on your own, or you can get help with ICAN's FAFSA Ready Iowa program. FAFSA Ready Iowa is a statewide initiative that provides free FAFSA completion assistance events in communities and schools across Iowa. 

Will I Need to Submit Anything Besides My FAFSA Form?

Yes! You need to submit an admissions applications with any schools you hope to attend. Schools will not look at your FAFSA if you have not been admitted. In addition to an admission application and the FAFSA, schools may need additional forms before financial aid is determined. Check with each school you're applying to to clarify their requirements.

Can I Find Out What I Qualify For Before the FAFSA is Released?

You can get an estimate of the federal financial aid you may qualify for by using Federal Student Aid Estimator at You can also look at average financial aid offers by viewing an institution's Net Price Calculator. View the Net Price Calculator for each Iowa school.

© 2024I Can Succeed. All rights reserved.