Skip to main content

FAFSA is the KEY!

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the key that opens the door to financial aid. It serves as the application for most of the financial aid from federal and state programs and from colleges and universities. Even if you are not sure that you will need financial aid, we recommend that you fill out a FAFSA anyway -- it's free.

The FAFSA normally launches on October 1 each year. However, in 2023, the Department of Education is updating the form and it will not be available until December.

When you file the 2023-24 FAFSA, you will use what the U.S. Department of Education calls the Prior Prior Year (PPY) for income information. This means that you will use your 2021 income information to complete the 2023-24 FAFSA.

You should submit the FAFSA as soon after the official starting date as possible, making sure you meet any college or state deadlines. The quickest and most accurate way to file the FAFSA is online. In contrast to a paper copy, the online form displays only the data entry fields you need to complete. You also receive directions as you need them. The FAFSA site is also available in Spanish.

To complete the FAFSA you will need an FSA ID (Federal Student Aid), a username and password that enables you to log in to some Department of Education websites.

You may wish to make use of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT). This tool transfers your income tax information directly from the income tax form that you filed onto the FAFSA. You can read more about this process and find out when your tax information will be available through the IRS DRT here.

Note: Starting with the 2024-2025 school year, the DRT will be replaced by the Direct Data Exchange (DDX).

If you prefer to fill out a paper copy of the FAFSA, you can obtain one by calling the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID.

The FAFSA may not be the only form required to receive an award letter from a school. You must also complete the college admissions process. Check with each of the colleges and universities you listed on your FAFSA to determine their requirements.

If you filed your FAFSA electronically, you will receive an electronic Student Aid Report (SAR)* within a few days of submitting your completed FAFSA. (SAR results may take three weeks if you filed a paper FAFSA.) The SAR is the result of your FAFSA. Read it immediately and follow any directions. The schools you list on the FAFSA will also receive results.

*Beginning with the 2024-2025 school year, the Student Aid Report will be replaced with the FAFSA Submission Summary.


  • Email Support

  • 1-800-GO-TO-XAP (1-800-468-6927)
    From outside the U.S., please call +1 (424) 750-3900


Powered by XAP

OCAP believes that financial literacy and understanding the financial aid process are critical aspects of college planning and student success. OCAP staff who work with students, parents, educators and community partners in the areas of personal finance education, state and federal financial aid, and student loan management do not provide financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice. This website and all information provided is for general educational purposes only, and is not intended to be construed as financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice.