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Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

The federal government has one form called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) that it uses to decide how much financial aid you qualify for. This form is sent to each school you list 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.

When Should It Be Filled Out?

The form can be filled out anytime after Oct. 1 and before your college's financial aid priority date. A priority date is the date at which you can receive the maximum amount of financial aid for which you qualify. 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 www.fafsa.gov to fill out an electronic form or you can use a paper form. If you want to have a paper form sent to you, call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at (800) 4-FED-AID. 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 more quickly.

What Materials Are Needed to Fill Out the Form?

You and your parents will need your most recent federal tax returns and W-2 forms, plus your current bank account and investment statements. View ICAN's FAFSA Checklist (PDF) for a detailed list.

Is Help With the Form Available?

You can fill the forms out and file them yourself. But if you find that you do need help, contact contact ICAN for assistance.

Will I Need to Submit Anything Besides My Form?

Obviously, you will need to file applications with any schools you hope to attend. Besides that and the FAFSA, schools may need additional forms before financial aid is determined. Check with each school you're applying to on its requirements.

Can I Find Out What I Qualify For Before Oct. 1?

You can get an estimate of the federal financial aid you may qualify for by using the U.S. Department of Education's FAFSA 4caster. You can also look at average award packages by viewing an institution's Net Price Calculator. View the Net Price Calculator for each Iowa school.

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