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

Complete and Submit the FAFSA Online:

  • Complete the FAFSA at 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.

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.

Financial Aid

Other Resources

Other Partners

For more information contact ACHE (

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Email Us:
Alabama Commission on Higher Education
100 North Union Street
Montgomery, AL  36104