FAFSA blocks with a piggy bank and stack of books

What Parents and Seniors Need to Know About the FAFSA Process

Wednesday , November 04 , 2020

FAFSA blocks with a piggy bank and a stack of books

If your teen is graduating in May and is considering enrolling in a college or university for the fall of 2021, you’ll want to get started by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application. By submitting a FAFSA application, students will be able to access grants, scholarships, work-study programs, and federal student loans.

“FAFSA is one of the most important steps students and their families can take to pay for college. The U.S. Department of Education uses the FAFSA to determine your eligibility for federal student aid, including low-cost loans, grants, and work-study. The FAFSA may also determine your eligibility for state and school aid as well. Anyone who plans to attend college should submit the FAFSA,” said Mary Harris, PVSchools lead counselor.

Here’s what parents and students need to know about FAFSA:

  • When you complete the FAFSA, colleges use the information to see if you are eligible for all types of financial aid. There is no income cutoff to qualify for federal student aid. All eligible students qualify for some type of financial aid whether it’s grants, work-study, loans, or scholarships.
  • The FAFSA is free and you can file it online at FAFSA.ed.gov. The FAFSA application process should only take about 30 minutes to complete.
  • You will use prior-prior year financial information. For example, for 2020-2021 FAFSA, you will use a completed 2018 income tax filing, for the 2021-2022 FAFSA, you will use a completed 2019 income tax filing.
  • The FAFSA becomes available on October 1 and is open until June 30. Don't wait for these deadlines because most states are now giving out money on a first-come-first-serve basis. This means if you wait too long, you will miss out on thousands of dollars in financial aid. 

    Arizona Universities Priority Dates:
    • November 15, 2020 – Northern Arizona University
    • January 15, 2021 – Arizona State University
    • March 1, 2021 – University of Arizona
  • You will use your FSA ID to log into FAFSA. If you are creating an FSA ID, it will take up to three days to process, so don't wait until the last minute. If you are a dependent student, your legal parent will need to create an FSA ID.

View the 12th-grade FAFSA Checklist. Learn more about FAFSA.