Students & Families
FAFSA refers to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and helps determine the amount of financial assistance a student may receive from the federal government to help pay for educational programs following high school.
Completing the FAFSA is important for several reasons. First, it has recently been linked to public high school graduation requirements. On April 8, 2021, the Alabama State Board of Education approved a resolution requiring every graduating senior to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Second, research links FAFSA completion to postsecondary enrollment. Roughly 92 percent of students who complete the FAFSA enroll in postsecondary education the following fall term. Alabama high school graduates leave over $47 million in federal grants on the table each year because they do not complete the FAFSA.
The FAFSA can be completed and submitted as early as October 1st for the following school year. Many colleges and universities have a priority deadline of March 1st but some institutions have a priority deadline as early as December 1st. Families and students are encouraged to complete and submit FAFSA applications as soon as possible after October 1st.
A good starting point is to review the components of the FAFSA using online resources and become familiar with the application. Knowing the questions and understanding any documentation you may need will help alleviate any apprehensions and uncertainties. Here are
a few federal resources:
Federal financial aid website
Brochure on federal financial aid:
Videos to get started:
Once you become familiar with the FAFSA, organize your information:
- Create a Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID) username and password here. FSA ID’s are used for electronic signatures. Parents of dependent students must also create a FSA ID.
- For more information regarding the criteria the Department of Education uses to determine if a student is considered to be dependent, visit https://studentaid.gov/sites/default/files/fafsa-dependency.pdf.
Complete and Submit the FAFSA Online:
- Complete the FAFSA at https://fafsa.gov or by using the myStudentAid app for iOS and Android. The FAFSA is available every October 1 so apply early!
- Avoid common errors by verifying personal information is entered correctly (name, date of birth, and social security number).
- Use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to transfer tax information to the FAFSA.
- List schools of your choice in Step 6 of the FAFSA. Find your school codes.
- Both the student and parent must sign the FAFSA using their FSA ID’s if the student is dependent. Don’t forget student and parent signatures!
- Print a copy of the submitted information for future reference.
Alabama’s colleges and universities have financial aid offices with financial aid professionals who can help guide you through the financial aid process. Many of these offices have online resources to provide additional assistance, and many of these resources will guide you through the FAFSA application process.
The State of Alabama is making FAFSA completion a priority. In addition to federal resources, there are several state and institutional resources available to help families and students complete the FAFSA.
For more information contact ACHE (email@example.com).
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Completion Portal
In an effort to help increase completion rates of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in Alabama,
the Alabama Commission on Higher Education's (ACHE) built a web tool called that FAFSA Completion Portal,
which shows which students have and have not completed it. Both public and private school districts and
independent schools that sign an use agreement (Agreement.pdf) can designate which of their educators
can access the full version of the portal for free, and they can designate the level of access for each person.
Authorized users with full access will see detailed information for the students in their district or school.
Some of that information includes which students have completed it, which have started, but made errors,
and which have not started it. Additional information includes the types of errors on incomplete forms and
whether or not students are undergoing verification of the information they submitted. At ACHE, we take
student privacy and safety so importantly that we remove any identifying information, such as date of birth
and social security number, before loading the data in the portal. The portal is updated on a weekly basis,
and the date the portal was last updated is listed on the homepage. For more information about the portal,
contact ACHE (firstname.lastname@example.org).
ACHE has additional web tools to make students
aware of all types of financial aid and detailed information
about Alabama’s two- and four-year public institutions to help students
make informed decisions about what institution to attend.
Paying for College with Student Financial Aid
This Flip Builder booklet (Paying_for_College_with_Student_Financial_Aid ) provides descriptions of the different
types of financial aid, the FAFSA, and numerous types of financial aid available from the State of Alabama.
Directory of Alabama Institutions
Students who go to ACHE's website ( Alabama Commission on Higher Education ) and select the name of
a public institution from a pull-down list are provided with links to a wide variety of information,
such as the cost of tuition, enrollment requirements, forms of financial aid, sports on campus, and much more.