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What is the FAFSA and how can I prepare for it?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, more commonly known as the FAFSA, is the form college students submit in order to be considered for federal and state grants and loans, and scholarships. In short, for most future college students, the FAFSA is the best way to get the most funding for their education. 

So, what do you need to know about the new FAFSA launching in December, and what can you do now?

3 things to know about the new FAFSA

1. Plan to file

We encourage everyone to file the FAFSA. Maybe you’ve filled it out before, or maybe a friend has, and it didn’t result in the kind of aid you were hoping for. But times change, and so has the FAFSA. There has never been more reason to fill out the FAFSA, and here’s why:

  • The FAFSA provides students access to possible federal grants and loans and is the gateway to lots of other dollars. Through the FAFSA, two out of every three Michigan high school graduates qualify for the Michigan Achievement Scholarship, worth up to $5,500 per year in free money. Also, many college, local, and private scholarships and grants require students to fill out the FAFSA. 
  • The FAFSA got a makeover this year, going from over 100 questions down to 36 questions, so it’s never been faster to complete.
  • Changes to the FAFSA this year mean that more students than ever will be eligible for Pell Grants. The FAFSA is also the gateway to Federal Work Study—campus jobs students can apply for, paid by the government, to help fund their education. 

2. Start before it becomes available in late December

Although the FAFSA isn’t expected to be available until December 31, 2023, you can take the first step now by getting your FSA ID. Students and their parent(s) need to have an FSA ID to complete the FAFSA, so taking that step now will let you jump right in when the full FAFSA is available.

Watch the recording of our "Don't Fear the FAFSA" webinar to learn more about preparing for the FAFSA and the financial aid timeline.

Watch the webinar: "Don't Fear the FAFSA"

 3. Have a few things on hand

In addition to your FSA ID, you will likely need to have the following items on hand when filling out your FAFSA:

  • Social Security or Alien Registration numbers for you and your student
  • Your IRS tax data will link automatically to your FAFSA, but in rare cases, you may need federal income tax returns, W-2 forms, and records of money earned from 2022 for you and your student.
  • Current bank statements for you and your student

I hope this information helps you better understand why you should complete the FAFSA and what you can do to get started. If you want to learn more to be prepared to apply for financial aid, I encourage you to join us for the CMU FAFSA preparation webinar on December 12. Professionals from our Financial Aid and Admissions offices will be on hand to share in-depth and up-to-date information on the FAFSA and answer your questions about the process. And don’t forget – now is a great time to register for your FSA ID.  

Let me know if you have any questions about this month’s blog, and…

Fire Up Chips!


Blog: Admissions Director's Blog posted | Last Modified: | Author: by Bob Garcia, Senior Director of Admissions | Categories: Admissions & Aid
The views and opinions expressed in these blog pages are strictly those of the page author.