​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​File your FAFSA as soon as Oct. 1

Higher education is one of the most significant investments you’ll make in your life. Cost is one of the biggest factors in deciding where you’ll attend college. There’s one important (and free) tool you can use to find out how much federal, state and college-specific aid you’ll receive.

What is it?

​Your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The U.S. Department of Education uses an annual application called the FAFSA to determine your eligibility for federal student aid. Eligibility is based largely on your family’s income and how much a given university costs.

What can FAFSA do for you?

It's simple:

  • Filing your FAFSA = potential $$$
  • Not filing a FAFSA = missed financial opportunities​

Filing your FAFSA as soon as possible gives you several advantages.

  • You'll know how much federal, state and institutional aid is available to you.
  • You’ll have more time to understand your financial aid package and what you'll have to pay out of pocket.
  • You will have more time to plan your finances for your college career.

So, am I guaranteed money by filling out the FAFSA?

No, but you could miss out on thousands of dollars in aid if you don’t fill it out. At CMU, more than 80% of students receive some type of financial assistance. Many of these students receive this funding by filling out their FAFSA.

My parents/family members are planning to pay all my college expenses. Do I need to fill out a FAFSA?

  • Completing a FAFSA is not mandatory, but it’s a good idea to have on record if your financial situation changes.
  • You may be eligible for other forms of financial aid, even if you don’t have a financial need. However, you can’t qualify for need-based aid without a FAFSA filed.

When can I start filling out a FAFSA?

You can complete a FAFSA as early as Oct. 1 of the year before you'll start your first semester. The state deadline for FAFSA completion has been extended to May 1. To complete your FAFSA, you will need:

  • Your parents’ income tax information from the previous year (if a dependent student).
  • Your personal income tax information from the previous year, W-2s and other records of money earned (if applicable).
  • Your spouse’s income tax information from the previous year.
  • CMU’s FAFSA code is: 002243.

How do I start my FAFSA?

It's an easy three-step process:

  1. Create a Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID). Each student, parent and borrower needs one to confirm their identity and act as an electronic signature. Create your ID here.
  2. Start your FAFSA
  3. Link your family's tax data to the FAFSA by using the IRS Data Retrieval tool. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool allows you to prefill the answers to some questions on the FAFSA by transferring data from previous federal tax returns. Link to the tool while filing your FAFSA, under the finance section titled 'Link to IRS'.

OK, my FAFSA is submitted. When can I expect my financial aid package?

If your FAFSA is complete with all the appropriate information, your financial aid package will be sent to you as early as February. Once received, follow the step-by-step instructions to accept any given award.

Great! Is there anything else I need to do?

Many financial aid programs require you to complete additional forms besides the FAFSA, so check the requirements for state, school and private awards to make sure your application is complete.