FAFSA is the KEY!

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the key that opens the door to financial aid. It serves as the application for most of the financial aid from federal and state programs and from colleges and universities. Even if you are not sure that you will need financial aid, we recommend that you fill out a FAFSA anyway -- it's free.

You should submit the FAFSA as soon after January 1 as possible, making sure you meet any college or state deadlines. The quickest and most accurate way to file the FAFSA is online. In contrast to a paper copy, the online form displays only the data entry fields you need to complete. You also receive directions as you need them. The FAFSA preparation worksheets are also available in Spanish.

To complete the FAFSA you are required to provide your signature and that of at least one parent if you are a dependent student. You can either print a signature page that can be mailed to the processing center, or you can sign the FAFSA electronically using your Federal Student Aid PIN. Your parent will need his/her own PIN to sign your FAFSA. Your PIN stays the same so you and your parent do not need to apply for new PINs each year. To apply for a PIN or to request a duplicate, go to www.pin.ed.gov. Remember, your FAFSA will not be processed without the required signature.

If you prefer to fill out a copy of the FAFSA, you can obtain one by calling the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID.

The FAFSA may not be the only form required to receive an award letter from a school. You must also complete the college admissions process. Check with each of the colleges and universities you listed on your FAFSA to determine their requirements.

If you filed your FAFSA electronically, you will receive an electronic Student Aid Report (SAR) within a few days of submitting your completed FAFSA. (SAR results may take three weeks if you filed a paper FAFSA.) The SAR is the result of your FAFSA. Read it immediately and follow any directions. The schools you list on the FAFSA will also receive results.