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Prudential Research & Perspectives Our original research and thought leadership provide vital insights into important issues for our clients, financial professionals, policymakers, and the general public.


about FAFSA, the single most important form in financial aid.
  1. FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Over 22 million1 families submit it every year.
  2. FAFSA is the key that unlocks over $122 billion2 in aid a year.
  3. Getting almost any form of financial aid — including federal, state, and college-sponsored grants, educational loans, and work-study programs — begins with completing the FAFSA. It must be submitted every year the student attends school.
  4. Beginning with the 2017-2018 academic year, the FAFSA will be based on the prior-prior year’s income. For example, for a freshman enrolling for the 2017-2018 academic year, the FAFSA will be based on 2015 income.
  5. Most financial aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, so submit your FAFSA as soon as possible after October 1st. Most families can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to transmit IRS tax return information directly into their FAFSA.
  6. The Dept. of Education recommends allotting 1-2 hours to fill out the application, and there’s a toll-free help hotline: 1-800-433-3243.
  7. While waiting for results of their FAFSA filing, students can get an early estimate of how much federal aid they may qualify for by completing the FAFSA4Caster at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid.
  8. A FAFSA can be submitted electronically or by mail.

Updated for 2016