What is the FAFSA?
FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. FAFSA is filed with the federal government.
Why complete a FAFSA?
Filling out the FAFSA is one of the most important steps for students and families to guarantee that they can pay for higher education. Students and families must complete a FAFSA to be eligible for federal aid as well as financial aid for many schools and states.
Who can file a FAFSA?
Students can complete the application if they are a: U.S. Citizen, Permanent Resident, Eligible non-citizen or T Visa holder.
Undocumented or exempt non-residents (under §15–106.8 of the MD Education Article) should instead complete the MSFAA (link is HERE ) Review any of the MSFAA questions on this page too.
It is possible for parents to complete FAFSA for dependent students and for a preparer to assist the student in filing FAFSA. See How can I get help filling out the FAFSA?
Do not assume eligibility for financial aid. FAFSA opens up opportunities for students of many backgrounds.
When do I file FAFSA?
Deadlines vary by school, state, and program of study. Check with your college or career school for individual program deadlines and apply as early as possible.
In Maryland, the deadline is March 1. Please file FAFSA or renewal FAFSA between December and March 1 each year.
How do I apply?
Apply online at FAFSA on the Web. Create an account and fill out the FAFSA online. It is possible for parents to complete FAFSA for dependent students and for a preparer to assist the student in filing FAFSA. See How can I get help filling out the FAFSA?
If you prefer, you can download a paper application (available in English or Spanish) or call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-433-3243.
What information do I need to fill out the FAFSA?
To complete the FAFSA you will need your financial aid dependency status, social security number, driver’s license number, alien registration number or permanent residence card (if you are not a U.S. citizen), proof of income, bank statements and business/investment information. Federal income tax returns can be filed after completing FAFSA, but the FAFSA must then be corrected. If you do not have this information, see As an undocumented student, what financial aid am I eligible for? or Who can file FAFSA?
The IRS Data retrieval Tool (DRT) lets applicants who have filed their federal income tax returns prefill the answers to some of the questions by transferring this information from your tax return.
What happens after I apply?
Your FAFSA will be checked for completeness. If an item is left blank, the form may not be processed or will be returned to you. This could cause your application to be late.
An electronically filed FAFSA will take approximately 3 days to process. A paper FAFSA application will take about four weeks to process.
After the FAFSA is processed, you will receive a report of your answers to the FAFSA questions. This is called a Student Aid Report (SAR). Your SAR will include your expected family contribution (EFC). This is how much money you and your family are expected to contribute toward your college expenses.
What if I have to make changes to my FAFSA?
Review your Student Aid Report carefully. If you need to make corrections, you may do so online. You may also make address and school corrections online. If you filed a paper FAFSA, you may make corrections directly on your SAR. After confirming income and tax returns, be sure to correct any information that was estimated.
If you are applying to school in Maryland and correcting FAFSA after March 15th, the new SAR form must be copied and sent to the Maryland Higher Education Commission. Keep one copy for your own records.
If I am an undocumented student, what financial aid am I eligible for?
If you attend an eligible Maryland public or private institution, you may be eligible for various Maryland State financial aid programs.
The MSFAA allows qualified children of undocumented immigrants, who qualify for in-state tuition (under §15–106.8 of the MD Education Article), to apply and be considered for certain types of State need-based financial aid.
Programs include: Howard P. Rawlings Educational Excellence Awards Program, the Educational Assistance Grant, the Guaranteed Access Grant, the Campus Based Educational Assistance Grant, the Part Time Grant, the Maryland Community College Promise Scholarship, the Near Completer Grant, the Cybersecurity Public Service Scholarship Award, the Legislative Scholarship Program, and the Richard W. Collins III Leadership with Honor Scholarship.
Should I complete the MSFAA?
The Maryland State Financial Aid Application (MSFAA) is available to applicants who are ineligible to receive federal aid using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
These applicants must still be residents of Maryland, defined as students who attended Maryland middle or high school(s), filed (or their parents filed) state income tax returns for the previous 3 years and is registered with the Selective Service System if required.
Even if you completed FAFSA as an undocumented student, you must complete the MSFAA through the Maryland College Aid Processing (MDCAPS) portal. Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) will not be able to use the FAFSA to determine your eligibility for State financial aid. The MDCAPS portal is found here.
A Social Security number is not required to complete the MSFAA.
How can I get help filling out the FAFSA or MSFAA?
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the Educational Opportunity Center at Montgomery College:
Both MHP and the Educational Opportunity Center can help students and their families with part of the financial aid process or all of it. The Educational Opportunity Center assists low-income students with FAFSA, MSFAA and much more. When completing their intake form, please write in “Other: MHP” to answer the question “how did you find out about us?”
How do I get financial help from FAFSA or MSFAA?
You will receive award notifications from the State of Maryland and from the colleges to which you have been admitted. Review these notifications carefully and update any incorrect information on the letter. Awards must be accepted.
Please note that award notifications may be sent via email. It is your responsibility to ensure that you check your email inbox and spam folders for any notifications.