This guide is designed to help students and families navigate the U.S. Department of Education’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in their quest to get financial aid for college. The guide will be particularly useful for students who are among the first in their family to go to college, or are new to the country.

We hope that educators and counselors will make use of the guide. Please download the PDF and share it widely. Also, free print copies are available during the FAFSA season (January-March) while they last. See below for more information.

More information for educators and families

Who is the Guide For?

Two kids looking at a website

This guide was designed to be a friendly, accessible guide for high school students who are applying to college and beginning their all-important quest for financial aid.

We hope that it will be helpful to students, families and the many caring adults in schools and communities who help families navigate the U.S. Department of Education’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Filling out the FAFSA form is the first step for nearly all students seeking financial support to go to college. Understanding the form and handling it confidently is crucial for college matriculation and success.

How Can the Guide Help?

Kids thinking about things

This guide was written in partnership with experienced college guidance and financial aid professionals. It is easy to read and answers many questions that students have. The guide explains how to prepare for the form, what kinds of questions will be asked, and why the government needs the information on parents, families and income. We hope the guide will demystify the FAFSA form and make it less intimidating for both students and adults.

Where Can I Learn More?

A girl with a laptop

Start with the U.S. Department of Education’s FAFSA website. This website allows families to submit the form electronically (which is strongly encouraged) and offers step-by-step answers to most common questions. The FAFSA website also provides access to free expert help, either on-line or on the phone.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid website is also a rich source of information about the FAFSA and other financial aid issues. This website explains the various types of financial aid that are available, who qualifies for aid and how to apply.