Originally Posted: Feb 25, 2015
Last Updated: Nov 11, 2020
Make no mistake: the FAFSA is your free ticket to free money for college and grad school. And you have nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain from spending the 30 minutes it takes to fill it out. Time is of the essence too; students who file ASAP (which used to be after January 1, but now it's after October 1! More on that here) get twice as much money on average, because those dollars are first come, first served.
What are you waiting for? Oh, you’re waiting for FAFSA help? Well, we collected our best CollegeXpress advice and links to some of our favorite resources.
CollegeXpress FAFSA help
- How to Fill Out the FAFSA, Step by Step: Turns out filling out the FAFSA is not as hard as you think!
- Do I have to file a FAFSA? Long story short, you don't have to fill out a FAFSA, but there's really no reason not to. These experts explain.
- 8 Things You Need to Do Before Filing the FAFSA: Make sure you and your parents do these eight things before you get ready to file the FAFSA.
Outside FAFSA resources
- FAFSA Help: Straight from the horse’s mouth. And by “horse” we mean US Department of Education’s fafsa.ed.gov, aka the FAFSA's online application portal.
- Federal Student Aid: Beyond the FAFSA application site, the Department of Ed covers a ton of common FAFSA questions on their website, like what to do if your parents are divorced.
- Getting Ready to Tackle the FAFSA: This is just one of several helpful FAFSA articles by college guru Lynn O'Shaughnessy at her College Solution blog (also a great site for general college admission help!).
- Filing the FAFSA: When it comes to college financial aid advice, it doesn’t get much better than Mark Kantrowitz and David Levy. They’re the brains behind Edvisors, they’ll let you download their Filing the FAFSA e-book for free!
You'll find plenty of tips online for filing the FAFSA, but, really, we find you don't need much. The Department of Education's website tackles a lot of the more complicated questions, and if your parents need more help, they're probably better off talking to a financial aid rep at your (intended) college and/or a professional financial advisor. But! If you know of any killer financial aid advice or resources we should check out, let us know in the comments.