Financial Aid for Students

Learn about getting help paying for school.

Federal Student Financial Aid (FAFSA)

Learn About Federal Student Aid

To apply for federal student aid, such as federal grants, scholarships, work-study, and loans, you need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

Federal student financial aid can be used at

  • Public or private colleges and universities
  • Career or vocational schools

Many states and colleges use your FAFSA information to determine your eligibility for state and school aid, and some private financial aid providers may use your FAFSA information to determine whether you qualify for their aid.

There are many financial aid programs to help you pay for college. Learn about ways to lower your college costs.

How to Apply for Federal Student Aid

  1. Read the basic eligibility criteria for U.S. citizens. Most foreign students are not eligible for federal student aid; however, some non-US citizens may qualify for student aid. Get more resources for foreign students who want to study in the US.

  2. Confirm the deadlines before submitting your FAFSA. There are separate federal and state deadlines.

  3. Fill out and submit your FAFSA. See your filing options.

Read commonly asked questions about federal student aid.

Send your feedback. File a complaint, report suspicious activity, or provide positive feedback using the online form.

Types of Federal Student Aid

When you submit your FAFSA, you may be eligible to receive the following types of funding:

If you have questions, contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center.

Tax Issues

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This video explains what happens after submitting the FAFSA application and getting your Student Aid Report (SAR).

0:00 So you've filled out the FAFSA. Now what?

0:03 The information you submitted will be processed by the

0:06 U.S. Department of Education's office of Federal Student Aid,

0:10 and the colleges or career schools you listed will be notified

0:13 so they can begin their process of awarding aid.

0:16 The great thing about filling out the FAFSA online

0:19 is that you can check its processing status immediately.

0:22 This comes in handy when you're thinking, "I wonder if it went through."

0:25 Within a few days of filling out the FAFSA,

0:28 you'll get your Student Aid Report (or SAR).

0:31 You'll hear that abbreviation again, so just remember,

0:34 your SAR is your Student Aid Report.

0:36 Basically, it summarizes all of the information you submitted on the FAFSA.

0:41 You can access your SAR online at

0:46 using your FSA ID (which is your user name and password).

0:50 Check your SAR for any mistakes.

0:52 Then make corrections if you need to,

0:54 but only if you estimated your tax information or provided incorrect information

0:59 the day you filled out the FAFSA.

1:00 On your SAR, you'll see reference to your EFC

1:04 or Expected Family Contribution.

1:06 This number is used to determine your eligibility

1:08 for federal student aid;

1:10 it doesn't mean you actually have to contribute that amount.

1:12 The financial aid office at each college or career school

1:15 you list on your FAFSA will receive your information.

1:19 Each office will then use your FAFSA information

1:21 to determine how much aid you can get at that school.

1:24 It's possible that your college or career school

1:27 may require you to verify the information you submitted on your FAFSA.

1:31 If that happens, your school will tell you what you need to do.

1:34 Once you're accepted into a college or career school,

1:37 you'll get an award letter from the school's financial aid office

1:40 that explains the aid being offered to you.

1:43 We'd recommend comparing award letters from multiple schools.

1:46 That way you can make the best decision for your situation.

1:50 If you have any questions about your financial aid offer,

1:53 contact the school's financial aid office.

1:57 If your aid offer includes a federal loan

1:59 and you're a first-time borrower, there are a few more

2:02 steps before you get your loan.

2:04 You'll need to complete entrance counseling

2:06 and sign the Master Promissory Note (or MPN),

2:09 which is your agreement to pay back the loan.

2:12 Your school will provide you with the necessary information.

2:15 So, how do you get your money?

2:17 Well, usually, your grants and loans will be applied to

2:20 tuition, fees and other charges on your student account first.

2:24 Then any leftover money is paid to you.

2:27 Work-study funds are earned throughout the term.

2:30 Remember, filling out the FAFSA is not a one-time thing;

2:33 you must complete it every year you attend school.

2:37 If you have questions or need more information,

2:39 please visit

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Types of Federal Student Aid

Check out this video to learn more about grants, loans, and work-study jobs.

0:00 If you need help paying for college or career school,

0:03 the office of Federal Student Aid might be your best option.

0:07 We offer more than $150 billion to students each year

0:11 in the form of grants, loans, and work-study funds.

0:14 And federal student aid can be used to pay for school expenses

0:18 such as tuition, room and board, and books and supplies.

0:22 After you've filled out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA,

0:26 you'll receive an award letter from each school you list on your FAFSA.

0:30 This letter explains both the federal and non-federal

0:32 financial aid options that a school is offering you.

0:35 So let's talk about federal aid.

0:37 If you qualify for and receive a federal grant, you won't have to repay the money.

0:41 That will definitely help offset the cost of school, but you may still need additional help.

0:47 If so, a federal student loan might be your answer.

0:50 Remember, a student loan is just like any other loan;

0:53 it's borrowed money that will have to be repaid with interest.

0:56 If you plan to take out a loan, consider federal student loans first.

1:01 Compared to private student loans, federal student loans often have lower fixed interest rates

1:05 and offer many benefits that you won't find otherwise.

1:09 For example, when it's time for you to repay your federal student loan,

1:12 your loan servicer can work with you to find the best repayment plan for your individual needs.

1:18 Plus, you may be able to adjust your loan payments based on your income.

1:22 You also may be able to defer your federal loan payments, deduct student loan interest on your taxes,

1:28 and even consolidate your eligible federal student loans into one loan with one monthly payment.

1:34 Federal loans can even be forgiven based on certain types of employment.

1:39 Getting a work-study job is another great option to help pay for school.

1:42 Eligible undergraduate and graduate students will be able to earn at least minimum wage.

1:47 If you have questions or need any assistance, you can contact the financial aid office at your

1:52 college or career school or visit for more information.

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Last Updated: May 25, 2017

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