FAFSA stands for "Free Application for Federal Student Aid" - but we like to think of it as "Financial Aid's First Step Always."
You can fill out the FAFSA online at fafsa.ed.gov. To complete and submit your FAFSA online, you must create a U.S. Department of Education FSA ID. The FSA ID will serve as your electronic signature. Create an FSA ID at fafsa.ed.gov
You can file the FAFSA after January 1. Try to file as early as possible because award deadlines vary from school to school and state to state. Pay attention to your colleges' financial aid deadlines and other required financial aid forms.
About four weeks after you file the FAFSA, you'll be emailed and asked to visit the Department of Education website to view a Student Aid Report (SAR) that confirms the information you filed. Check carefully for errors - any problems with your SAR can make a big difference in the aid you receive. Keep a copy of the SAR for your records.
If you haven't received your Student Aid Report four weeks after completing the FAFSA, you should contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-433-3243.
You will see an amount known as your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) immediately after submitting your FAFSA online. Your EFC is the amount of money the government determines your family can contribute to your education. This figure is sent to your state's scholarship agency, as well as to the colleges you listed on the FAFSA so they can determine the size of your aid award. You can still get certain loans without a FAFSA, such as private loans, but you could miss out on some of the best loan deals and other aid if you don't file.
The PNC Education Loan Center offers a variety of loans that help finance the Expected Family Contribution amount. Send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact our customer service center to speak with a student loan specialist at 1-800-762-1001, Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm Eastern time (except during specified Peak time).
The next part of the financial aid process begins when you receive your financial aid award letters from your top schools. Award letters indicate how much funding and what types of aid you're eligible to receive from each school. They can include grants, scholarships, work study programs and eligibility for federal student loans. Compare your award letters to understand the financial impact they might have.
For More Information:
FAFSA on the Web
The government offers a detailed, question-by-question guide to filling out the paper and online FAFSA.
You are encouraged to explore all scholarship, grant and federal borrowing options before applying for a private loan.
PNC does not provide accounting, tax or legal advice. Any calculators provided are intended for educational and estimation purposes only, and their accuracy is not guaranteed. The calculators, and any results displayed, do not constitute the advice of, or reflect actual products, services, rates and/or terms available from PNC Bank or its affiliates, and nothing contained in the calculators shall constitute an offer or solicitation of a product or service by PNC Bank or its affiliates.