Student in financial aid office
What you need to know about applying for FAFSA

If you have started applying to college you’ve probably heard “FAFSA” about a dozen times by now. And if you haven’t, we’ll be the first to tell you, you need to apply for FAFSA! But what is it? And why should every student apply? After all, it’s one more application to fill-out and we hear you! But trust us when we say your wallet will thank you. Whether this is the first article you’ve read about FAFSA or the 100th- we’ll keep it quick and simple and break down everything you need to know.  

What is FAFSA? 

Before you apply, it’s important to understand what exactly you’re applying for. FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Long story short, you’re filling out an application for the U.S. Department of Education. That application will ask you questions like how many people are in your household, annual income, marital status, etc. From there, the government will determine your Expected Family Contribution or EFC, and our Financial Aid team will help you figure out how much and what type of funding you’re eligible for. It’s important to mention filling the form out is free and anyone can do so.   

How do I fill out the FAFSA and what do I need? 

The easiest way is to fill out the form on the FAFSA website. The online form will provide faster and more accurate results. Before you start, you’ll need to gather some documents including your (or your family’s) tax documents, your school code, and FAFSA ID 

How do you find your school code? The US Department of Education assigns school codes to each college and university. You’ll need the codes for the schools you wish to apply to. The easiest way to find a school code is online through the Federal Code Search Tool. The tool allows you to search for schools and their codes. You can also contact the financial aid office at your desired college or university. 

To create your ID, you’ll need your social security number, date of birth, and your name as it appears on all official documents. Visit this site for a great checklist of everything you’ll need before you start!  

Who needs to fill it out? 

Both the student and parent(s) will need to provide information and sign the final document in order to complete the FAFSA. Independent students can fill-out a form on their own. For married couples, income information for both spouses is required. Every student should take the time to fill out FAFSA. Don’t assume you won’t qualify, you’ll be surprised! In fact, according to US News and World Report, nearly all students who apply qualify for some form of federal financial aid.  

When is the FAFSA due? 

Enrollment for the FAFSA starts every year on October 1. Students will start filling out the form their senior year of high school and then each year after that to remain eligible. Each state has their own deadlines ranging from January to June 30. It’s best that you don’t wait until June 30 so you don’t miss out on aid. 

What Happens After I fill-out the FAFSA 

After you fill out the FAFSA, you’ll will receive a Student Aid Report also known as a SAR. You can access your report on the FAFSA website by inputting your FAFSA ID. The report will show an estimate on how much a family can afford to pay out of pocket and that determines the financial need of each student. 

Still have questions? UT Permian Basin is here to guide you through the process. Our Financial Aid team can answer your questions and talk to you about FAFSA and other scholarship opportunities. Don’t hesitate to reach out!