The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is sponsored through the United States Department of Education. This application for federal student aid is absolutely free. Students use their parents' previous year income tax returns to apply for free federal government aid to attend college. The information from the FAFSA provides colleges with an "Estimated Family Contribution" (EFC) for each student. The EFC guides colleges in establishing a financial aid award for each individual student.
The first step to completing the FAFSA, is to apply for a Personal Identification Number (PIN) number. Both parent and student will need to apply for a PIN number. Please do this a few days before you plan to fill out the application. The second step is having a completed income tax return return as soon as possible after January 1 of the year applying for FAFSA. Parents are encouraged to file income tax returns as soon as possible after January 1 as financial aid is awarded on a first come basis through colleges and universities.