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Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

The office of Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) provides grants, loans, and work-study funds for college or career school.

They offer more than $150 billion each year to help millions of students pay for higher education.

What Is FAFSA?

FAFSA is short for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The Federal Student Aid, a part of the U.S. Department of Education, is the largest provider of student financial aid in the nation. At the office of Federal Student Aid, the 1,200 employees help make college education possible for every dedicated mind by providing more than $150 billion in federal grants, loans, and work-study funds each year to more than 13 million students paying for college or career school. They are proud to sponsor millions of American minds pursuing their educational dreams. 

What Does FAFSA Do?

Federal Student Aid is responsible for managing the student financial assistance programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965. These programs provide grants, loans, and work-study funds to students attending college or career school.

They ensure students and their families can benefit from these programs by

  • informing students and families about the availability of the federal student aid programs and the process for applying for and receiving aid from those programs;
  • developing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) and processing approximately 22 million FAFSA submissions each year;
  • accurately disbursing, reconciling, and accounting for all federal student aid funds that are delivered to students each year through more than 6,200 colleges and career schools;
  • managing the outstanding federal student loan portfolio and securing repayment from federal student loan borrowers;
  • offering free assistance to students, parents, and borrowers throughout the entire financial aid process; and
  • providing oversight and monitoring of all program participants—schools, financial entities, and students— to ensure compliance with the laws, regulations, and policies governing the federal student aid programs.

When Do I Apply for the FAFSA?

Seniors may start applying for the FAFSA as early as October 1 of their Senior year.

What Do I Need Before Applying to the FAFSA?

Eight Items and 22 Minutes: All You Need to Fill Out the FAFSA

Filing the FAFSA isn’t as complicated or time-consuming as it seems – you only need about six documents and 22 minutes! So in the time it takes you to catch up on your Instagram feed, you can take the critical first step in getting the money you need to attend college!

Here’s a checklist of everything you and your parent need to fill out, sign and submit the FAFSA:

  • You must be a U.S. Citizen or Pernament Resident to apply for the FAFSA
  • An FSA ID. Your FSA ID allows you to log in to your account, sign the FAFSA and make changes or add schools. You and your parent must create separate FSA IDs. Create this first!
  • You and your parent’s Social Security or Alien Registration number. Here’s what to do if your parent doesn’t have a Social Security number.
  • Driver’s license (if you have one)
  • Your and your parent’s federal income tax returns and W-2s from 2019 (you can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to import this data!)
  • Bank statement
  • Register for Selective Service (men)
  • If applicable, other records of money earned, and records of investments and untaxed income

File your FAFSA now!

What is Selective Service?

Selective Service System is a pre-military draft.  (FYI:  It’s important to know that even though a man is registered, he will not automatically be inducted into the military. Registering with Selective Service does not mean you are joining the military.)

Why is this important?  All males, ages 18 - 25, must register with Selective Service to receive Federal Student Aid.  It’s the LAW!  [Learn more]

When do I need to register? There are several options...

  • Sign up early -- starting at age 17 years and 3 months -- and the system will register you automatically when you turn 18 years old
  • Register within 30 days of your 18th birthday (30 days before or 30 days after)
  • As soon as possilbe if you missed the 60 day window.  

How do I register? There are several options...

  • Within your FAFSA
  • At the post office
  • Online at
  • Print a form and mail it in -- if you do not have a social security number you need to do this. Get help in the CCC.
  • Learn more on the Selective Service Registration page.

What if you're female?  Selective Service law as it's written now refers specifically to "male persons" in stating who must register and who would be drafted. For women to be required to register with Selective Service, Congress would have to amend the law.  However, you can still join the miliatary, you just aren't required to register with the Selective Service.  [Learn more]

Don’t worry if you can’t find these materials right away: you can start the FAFSA and come back as many times as you need to update information or add schools. The important thing is to get started!

Want to know more? Use this worksheet to get a sneak preview of what the form looks like and the questions it asks, and check out the FAFSA YouTube channel for step-by-step instructions on creating an FSA ID and filling out the form. Our financial aid office can help you with any questions you have at any time in the process, so don’t hesitate to contact us.

From the FAFSA website:

What If I'm Not at U.S. Citizen or Pernament Resident?

You will still qualify for financial aid through Minnesota's Dream Act.  The Minnesota Dream Act provides State grants to undocumented students attending a post-secondary institution in Minnesota.  If you have questions about the Minnesota Dream Act, please contact your school counselor.