The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is "the" official form that you need to fill out to get any financial aid (grants, loans, etc.) from the federal government to help pay for college.  Many colleges and universities also use the FAFSA to determine which students get their institutional financial aid- and much they will get.  The FAFSA asks for information about you and your family's finances, including tax returns, so you'll need your parents' help to complete it!  PARENTS:  Questions and/or confused already? (which is totally understandable!)   Review these helpful articles from the Federal Student Aid Office:

    Understanding the FAFSA Process for Parents 

    Filling Out the FAFSA Form.

    Students should receive "Financial Aid Award Letters" from the colleges/schools after they have been accepted, and will detail a 'package' of the total amount and type of assistance (federal and nonfederal loans, grants, scholarships, etc.) that each college offers to help meet the student's education costs. If a student has applied to several schools, be sure to compare aid offers to see which school will ultimately be the most affordable.  Award letters may vary by college/school!  The FAFSA has undergone several changes- called "FAFSA Simplification"- for the 2024-25 aid year. Because of these changes to the process, the FAFSA for 2024-25 will not open on the usual date of October 1st.  It is expected to open sometime in December 2023It is a good idea to submit the FAFSA as soon as you can because financial aid is often given out on a first-come, first-served basis.  There are three types of FAFSA deadlines:

    • College deadlines:  Important when you're applying for aid from a college.  Deadlines vary by school, so check college websites or contact the financial aid offices of the colleges you're interested in to determine when you need to submit your FAFSA.
    • State deadlines:  Important when you are applying for aid from your state.  Check your state's FAFSA deadline
    • Federal deadline:  June 30th is the last day you can apply for federal aid for the following academic year                             

    The "FAFSA Simplification" changes should make FAFSA easier to navigate and quicker for students.  Some of the main changes are:

    • The new FAFSA will have less than half of the questions of the current FAFSA
    • EFC ("Expected Family Contribution") is being replaced with SAI ("Student Aid Index").  SAI serves a similar function as the EFC. However, it is a revised version that is designed to more accurately assess each students' financial situation.  
    • Income Protection Allowance increase
    • Number in College will no longer be considered.  This will have a significant effect on families with multiple students in college, and will lower financial eligibility for families with more than one student enrolled in college at the same time.
    • For students with parents who are divorced, the custodial parent will now be required to fill out the parental section of the FAFSA.  The custodial parent is defined as the parent with whom the child lives for the majority of the 12-month period ending on the day the FAFSA is filed.

    See the Career Center Calendar for 2023-24 FAFSA workshop dates or click here for schedule.  TMCC and UNR also provide assistance with completing your FAFSA (see below). Additionally, the Federal Department of Education website provides helpful information, tutorials and a link to the FAFSA application:  Click here

    NOTE: The FAFSA is a FREE application. You should never have to pay to complete it.  And remember:  You need to submit a new FAFSA before each academic year in which you want to get financial aid.  If you plan to apply for financial aid throughout college, you'll need to fill out the FAFSA each year!


    I.  What is the first step to starting your FAFSA application?  Creating a FSA ID!

    • What’s a FSA ID and Why Do I Need One?

    The FSA ID (account username and password) allows students and parents to identify themselves electronically to access Federal Student Aid (FSA) websites. Having an FSA ID is the fastest way to sign your FAFSA and have it processed!  When you type in your FSA ID at these sites, you are saying either “Yes, it’s really me” or “Please accept my FSA ID as my signature on this online form.”

    • How do I get an FSA ID?

    Visit FSA ID to learn about and create an FSA ID.  Both the student AND one parent need to create their own FSA ID.  Here’s what you need to get your FSA ID:

    • Your Social Security number (you must have an SSN to get an FSA ID; however, your parents do not)
    • Your full name (must match your Social Security card)
    • Your date of birth
    • Your own mobile phone number and/or email address

    Although you’re not required to provide your e-mail address when you set up your FSA ID, it will make retrieving your username and password easier if you forget them. Just make sure you do not use the same e-mail address as someone else (your parent, for instance). Each e-mail address can be associated with only one FSA ID.

    II.  Once you create your FSA ID, you're ready to start the FAFSA application process:  FAFSA APPLICATION

    • Attend one of the 2023-24 WCSD FAFSA Nights for assistance!  Click here for schedule.

    III.  What kinds of federal grants (financial aid money that does not have to be repaid) are available?

    The U.S. Department of Education (ED) offers a variety of federal grants to students attending four-year colleges or universities, community colleges, and career schools:

    Grants and scholarships are often called “gift aid” because they are free money—financial aid that doesn’t have to be repaid. Grants are often need-based, while scholarships are usually merit based.                                               

    IV.  What about loans?

    If you apply for financial aid, you may be offered loans as part of your school’s financial aid offer. A loan is money you borrow and must pay back with interest.   If you decide to take out a loan, make sure you understand who is making the loan and the terms and conditions of the loan.

    Student loans can come from the federal government or from private sources such as a bank or financial institution. Loans made by the federal government, called federal student loans, usually offer borrowers lower interest rates and have more flexible repayment options than loans from banks or other private sources.


    UNR and TMCC Financial Aid offices can also help you with the FAFSA application and/or any questions about Financial Aid!  They are happy to help students and families who need help navigating this process, so do not hesitate to reach out.  This is a FREE service and you do NOT have to attend either of these schools to use these services!


    Federal Student Aid Website

    Explanation of different types of Financial Aid:  Click here

    Information and details on Federal Grants:  Click here

    Comparing Financial Aid offers/packages:  Click here

    Worksheet to compare Financial Aid offers/packages:  Click here

    Questions to ask about Financial Aid offers/packages:  Click here

    Next Steps Financial Aid Timeline (Spring of high school senior year - Fall of college freshman year):  Click here












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