The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step in applying for financial aid. To learn more about the FAFSA, visit
Here are some helpful steps to make the process easier.

Before Completing the FAFSA

  • Make sure you know the deadlines for your state and school. Check with your college's Financial Aid Office to find the dates that apply.
  • Complete a FAFSA on the Web Worksheet at, which will help you get familiar with the questions and make sure you’ve got all of the information that will be needed prior to filling out the application.
  • The FAFSA requires specific documentation; find out which documents you need before you start.
  • Decide how you'll file and sign the FAFSA. You can file in one of two ways:
    1. Complete an online application at Before you file online, apply for your Personal Identification Number (PIN) at a few weeks in advance of completing the FAFSA.
    2. Complete a paper application and mail pages 3-8 to Federal Student Aid Programs, P.O. Box 4691, Mount Vernon, IL 6286-0059.
      Download a paper copy.

Benefits of filing and signing online:

  • Online help is available to guide you through the application process.
  • Your application will be processed faster; colleges will receive your information faster.
  • You can make changes/updates to your submitted FAFSA application.

After You Complete the FAFSA

  • Allow time for the Department of Education to analyze your information, calculate an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) for you and develop a Student Aid Report (SAR).
  • Anticipate a SAR to be delivered to you. If you filed electronically and provided an email address, you will receive your SAR acknowledgment within 3-5 days after your FAFSA has been processed. If you did not provide an email address, your SAR will be mailed to you within 7-10 days.
  • Expect a SAR in the mail if you filed a FAFSA on paper. Know that the SAR (including the EFC) will be sent to the colleges you listed on your application.
  • Check the SAR carefully to make sure that it's accurate.
  • Make corrections, if needed, by going to, calling 800-4-FED-AID (800-433-3243) or by returning the corrected and signed paper SAR for reprocessing.
  • You can check the status of your FAFSA by calling 800-4-Fed-AID (800-433-3243) or online at

Receiving Student Aid

Federal aid is paid to you through your college. The colleges listed on your application will send you an award letter that outlines the financial aid offer from that school.


  • To send an email that contains confidential information, please visit the Secure Message Center where there are additional instructions about whether to use Secure Email or Online Banking messaging.