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Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

There are more than $120 billion dollars worth of grants, scholarships, loans, and work study funds available to students through the federal government each year.  Filling out the FAFSA is the only way to be eligible to receive this financial aid so it is very important that every student prioritize completing the application.  Furthermore, the earlier you apply, the more likely you are to receive maximum aid amounts. 
How Do I Apply?
To submit your FAFSA, visit
Important Dates:
Application Opens: October 1st
Submission deadlines vary depending on institutional, state, or federal preferences.
  • Institutional Priority Deadline: March 1st (most colleges and universities ask that you submit your application by this date in order to be considered for scholarships and grants through the institution)
  • State Deadline: North Carolina recommends that students finish the application as soon after October 1st as possible because awards are made until funds are depleted.
  • Federal Submission Deadline: June 30th (applications will not be considered after this time)
How Does it Work?
Filling out the FAFSA can be a bit confusing so check out this infographic to learn more about how to prepare, how to fill it out, and how it's processed. 
For more detailed information about what you'll need and how to fill out the form, check out this page: You Know You Have to Fill Out the FAFSA, but You're Not Sure What to Do.
If you want to check out the form itself before you fill it out, here's a PDF version that you can use for reference.  Please note that this form is included as an example only.  To ensure that you are applying with the most up to date version of the form, we recommend that you apply online!
Things You'll Need
FSA ID: An FSA ID is a username and password that you will use to fill out, sign & submit, and access your FAFSA materials. You can create one here.
If you are worried that it may be difficult to remember your username, password, or security questions, use this helpful worksheet to keep track, but make sure to keep it in a safe place!
The Following Documents:
  • Your social security number
  • Your parents' social security numbers
  • Your driver's license number (if you have one)
  • Your Alien Registration number if you are not a U.S. citizen
  • Your parents' tax information including IRS 1040 & W-2s 
  • Records of any untaxed income your parents may receive such as child support, interest income, or veterans noneducation benefits
  • Information on your parents' savings and checking account balances, investments, and business or farm assets.
This worksheet will help you make sure you have all the information you need before you start your FAFSA! 
If you have special circumstances which may make it difficult to obtain the required documents, use this help page to contact someone for guidance.
Is it safe to enter all of this sensitive information?
Information submitted via the FAFSA is very secure, but if you or your family have concerns you can learn more about federal student aid and preventing identity theft or you can speak with a representative using the help page linked above.
Residency Determination Service (RDS):
What is Residency?
The state of North Carolina partially subsidizes the cost of North Carolina public college and university tuition for all students whose permanent legal residence is in North Carolina.  Residence determination establishes if students should have in-state or out-of-state tuition.  Students must live in NC for minimum of 12 months to be eligible for in-state tuition.  The Residency Determination Service (RDS) is a centralized service for determining residency that allows students to complete the process once and utilize the determination for admission applications to any UNC system school or for state financial aid programs.
If have further questions, you can visit RDS' FAQ Page.
You Finished the FAFSA...What Now?