It’s FAFSA Time

Dec 29, 2023 Paying For College

It's FAFSA time! The 2024-25 FAFSA is available starting December 31, 2023, for families of seniors in high school and students in college to complete.

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The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is typically a key part of paying for college as it’s used to determine eligibility for federal financial aid. This includes grants, work-study, and loans. The FAFSA may also be used by colleges, universities, and some private lenders to determine eligibility for their financial aid.

While there are many myths about financial aid and the FAFSA, it’s important to remember that no matter what, you cannot receive any type of federal aid unless you complete the FAFSA – including grant money! So even if you don’t think you’ll qualify for anything, complete the FAFSA each year you’re in school. You never know what’s out there. Plus, you don’t have to accept anything if you don’t want to.

The FAFSA is getting revamped for the 2024-25 school year and will be available to begin filling out after December 31, 2023. Typically, the FAFSA is available starting October 1, and according to the Department of Education, this date change is temporary and the FAFSA will open October 1 for the 2025-26 school year. Many schools also have their own specific deadlines for financial aid. You’ll want to submit your FAFSA as soon as possible as many funds are limited and given out on a first-come, first-serve basis.

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Important Dates
Important Dates
2024-2025 School Year FAFSA Available December 31, 2023
2025-2026 School Year FAFSA Available October 1, 2024

The FAFSA Process

Get Prepared

Before you sit down to complete the FAFSA, take some time to gather the information you’ll need. For many of the questions, you’ll need information from contributors and student. Check out the Student Aid website for more information and to prepare your list.

Create Your FSA ID 

Your FSA ID is a username and password used to verify your identity when filling out the FAFSA and when accessing your financial aid documents. It can serve as your legal signature and makes it easier to complete everything online.

Complete & Submit The FAFSA

Set aside time to go through the FAFSA. Answer the questions honestly. Before you hit submit, verify your answers.

Review Your Student Aid Report  

After you’ve submitted the FAFSA, the form will be processed, information will be verified, and a Student Aid Report (SAR) will be developed and sent to you.

The SAR includes a summary of your information and the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is sent to the schools you indicated on the FAFSA for use in calculating your award package.

Receive & Review Financial Aid Packages  

After the school receives your EFC, they will calculate your Financial Need. To get this number, they subtract your EFC from the Cost of Attendance.

Once they have your Financial Need, they will put together a financial aid package that helps meet that need. This package could include grants, work-study (if you selected that as an option on your FAFSA), and loans.

Compare & Select A School

If you’ve applied to multiple schools, you’ll receive multiple award letters.

Take some time to review what each school can offer you. Were they able to meet your financial need 100%? Are you going to need to find alternate ways to pay for your school? How much will you need to take out in loans at each school?

Financial Aid Comparison Chart

Use this worksheet to help you compare the aid each school is offering you.

Accept Aid Package

Once you’ve decided on a school, you also need to accept your aid package. You don’t have to accept everything the school offers you – this includes the type of aid and the amount. You only accept what you need.

Once you’ve decided what you want to accept, follow the instructions on the award letter.


The FAFSA and financial aid process doesn’t have to be complicated. With a little preparation and research, getting money for college is easier than you think.

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Life Guidance for:

Paying For College

If you’ve set your sights on attending college, it’s never too early to prepare. Use our resources to familiarize yourself with college savings options and financial aid, estimate your cost of attendance, and understand repayment options.

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