Make no mistake: the FAFSA is your free ticket to (potentially) free money for college and grad school. 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 on or after October 1 get twice as much aid on average, because those dollars are first come, first served. So what are you waiting for? Oh, you’re waiting for help? Sure thing—we've gathered our best FAFSA advice on CollegeXpress, plus links to some of our other favorite resources. Check it all out below!
Filing the FAFSA
- How to Fill Out the FAFSA, Step-by-Step: Turns out filling out the FAFSA is not as hard as you think. This step-by-step guide will walk you through the whole process!
- Do I Have to File the FAFSA? Long story short, you don't have to fill out the FAFSA, but there's really no reason not to. Our experts explain.
- When Should I File the FAFSA?: It opens on October 1, and it's best to submit it ASAP! Learn why here.
- Should I Apply for Financial Aid if I May Not Be Eligible?: Some students think they aren't eligible for financial aid because of their parents' high income, but many factors go into the FAFSA. Here's some expert advice.
- 5 Simple Mistakes to Avoid on the FAFSA: Regardless of your financial need, you should probably fill out the FAFSA—just be sure to avoid these five mistakes when you do.
- Top 10 Things to Remember Before Filing the FAFSA: Make sure you and your parents do these eight things before you get ready to file the FAFSA.
Financial aid terms you should know about
- All the Important Financial Aid Terms You Need to Know: Before you start filing your FAFSA, make sure you know these important financial aid terms to avoid confusion.
- Important Things to Know About Your EFC: You'll see this acronym pop up when you're applying for financial aid. Here are 15 important things you should know about your Expected Family Contribution.
- Financial Aid Terms You Need to Know After Graduation: Use this guide to learn all the key financial aid terms you need to know when you're ready to pay back any student loans.
Getting the most aid possible
- How to Get Financial Aid for College: The Ultimate Guide: Use this comprehensive guide to learn about all the types of financial aid you can access.
- A General Guide to Funding a Private College Education: Unfortunately, attending a private college tends to cost more than going to a public school. Here's how to fund it.
- How to Get the Most Financial Aid Possible: Make sure you're getting the most out of your aid opportunities with this advice.
- 5 FAFSA Tips to Get the Most Financial Aid: Follow this advice to maximize the aid you can get when you fill out the application.
- 7 Ways to Get Thousands in Financial Aid: How can you lower the bottom line for the next four years? Here are seven ways to do just that!
Other financial aid advice
- Tackling the Financial Aid Process With Your Parents: The financial aid process is the part of the college admission process you want to include your parents in. Here's how!
- Common Financial Aid Questions Answered by an Insider: Students usually have a lot of question about financial aid during the college admission process. Here are the answers to some common questions from an expert.
- Financial Aid Application Mistakes Can Cost You: The financial aid process is complicated with so many forms, deadlines, and other important details. Here's how to avoid making mistakes.
- 5 Things That Could Jeopardize Your Financial Aid: Be aware of these five things to avoid to get more money for college.
- Important Financial Aid Opportunities and Sources for You: It's important to know about every financial aid option available to you. One of our student writers breaks it down for you here.
- Financial Aid for Grad School: What's Different This Time? You can still fill out the FAFSA as a grad student, but there are some other differences about the financial aid process you should know about.
- Important Things to Understand About Transfer Aid: If you're transferring and worried about costs, don't be. Transferring can be more affordable than you think! Here's what to know about transfer financial aid.
Advice just for parents
- 5 Things Parents Need to Know About the FAFSA: If you or your child are applying to college, here are five essential things you need to know about the FAFSA.
- Financial Transparency: The FAFSA, Your Student, and You: This advice is for parents who might be wary about sharing financial information with their teen when filing the FAFSA.
- Parents, It's Time to Communicate About College Costs: Some parents put off the money talk with their students far longer than they should. Here's why you should talk about college costs early in the search process.
- 4 Tips for Families to Maximize College Affordability: For families looking for ways to cut college costs, it's important to think outside the box. Here, an expert on college affordability shares some of his strategies.
- When Finances Change While Your Student Is in College: Instead of panicking, follow this advice to possibly receive more financial aid.
- 4 Important Numbers to Know Before Applying to College: One of your biggest roles as a parent is crunching numbers. Here are the most important figures to know before your student applies for college and financial aid.
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 Education 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 on her College Solutions blog (also a great site for general college admission help!).
- Asking questions about the FAFSA: The Federal Student Aid website also has a help center that allows you to ask questions that may not be the common question you find on FAQ pages.
- Filing the FAFSA: When it comes to college financial aid advice, it doesn’t get much better than Mark Kantrowitz and David Levy, the brains behind Edvisors. Check out their most recent Guide to Filing the FAFSA now!
- Question-by-question FAFSA guide: If you want a really in-depth huide to filling out the FAFSA form, this one from NitroCollege.com walks through the whole thing one question at a time.
You'll find plenty of tips online for filing the FAFSA, but really, we find you won'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 other resources we should check out, let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about scholarships, grants, loans, and other ways to pay for college in our Financial Aid section.