What Is The FAFSA?
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the form you need to fill out to get any financial aid from the federal government to help pay for college. Each year, over 13 million students who file the FAFSA get more than $120 billion in grants, work-study, and low-interest loans from the U.S. Department of Education. The FAFSA asks for information about you and your family’s finances, including tax returns, so you’ll need your parents’ help to complete it.
Lots of states and colleges also use the FAFSA to determine which students get financial aid—and how much they’ll get. You must file the FAFSA each year to receive a financial aid package from Texas Lutheran University.
Certain aid is limited and is awarded until funds are depleted. To ensure your consideration for such aid, you should file your FAFSA as soon as possible beginning in December for the 2024-2025 award year.
- Submitting the FAFSA is the most important thing you can do if you want financial aid.
- The FAFSA is free—you don’t need to pay anyone to prepare it for you.
- You need to submit a new FAFSA before each academic year in which you want to get aid. If you plan to apply for aid throughout college, you’ll need to fill out the FAFSA each year.
- Be sure to use a permanent email address on the form, not your high school email, so you can use your FAFSA account throughout college.
Who Should Fill Out the FAFSA?
Anyone planning on going to college in the next academic year should fill out the FAFSA.
- Each year, millions—sometimes billions—of dollars in federal aid is left on the table by students who didn’t file a FAFSA. It’s simple: If you don’t file, you won’t qualify for most financial aid.
- Your family doesn’t have to have a low income to qualify for assistance. Even if your family makes $200,000 a year, you could be eligible for aid.
- You automatically qualify for a low-interest federal loan when you submit a FAFSA. These loans are less expensive to pay back than many private student loans.
- Many work-study programs require the FAFSA.
- Some merit-based scholarships require the FAFSA to help them determine scholarship amounts.
How to Fill Out the FAFSA
The FAFSA becomes available in December for the 2024-2025 academic year.
There are three ways to complete and submit your FAFSA:
- Log in at fafsa.gov to apply online. To have your FAFSA information sent directly to TLU, enter Federal School Code 003641.
- Complete a FAFSA PDF (Note: You must print out and mail the FAFSA PDF for processing).
- Request a print-out of the FAFSA PDF by calling 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243); then fill out the form and mail it for processing.
If you are filling out the FAFSA electronically for the first time, you must create a Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID). You’ll use it to sign the electronic form. Because one of your parents also has to sign off on your FAFSA, they’ll need to create an FSA ID, too.
For the 2024-2025 award year, you will need your 2022 income tax information as well as your parents' 2022 income tax information to complete the FAFSA. If you have a question regarding your dependency status click here. We encourage you to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool within the FAFSA to load your and your parent(s)' tax information into the FAFSA. To do this, you and your parent will need to create your FSA IDs at least three days prior to completing the FAFSA.
When to Submit Your FAFSA: Understanding FAFSA Deadlines
You can file as early as December for the 2024-2025 academic year. It’s a good idea to submit the application as soon as possible because financial aid is often given out on a first-come, first-served basis.
There are three types of FAFSA deadlines:
- College deadlines: Important when you’re applying for aid from a college. Deadlines vary by school, so check college websites or contact the financial aid offices of the colleges you’re interested in to find out when you need to submit your FAFSA. TLU's priority deadline is April 15 for institutional grants.
- State deadlines: Important when you’re applying for aid from your state. Check your state's FAFSA deadline. Texas' priority deadline is April 15 for state grants.
- Federal deadline: June 30 is the last day you can apply for federal aid for the current academic year. Example, the federal deadline for the 2021-2022 academic year is June 30, 2022. However, TLU must have a fully processed FAFSA by the last date of attendance for the academic year to be able to offer any financial aid and prefer to have it no later than two weeks before the last date of attendance to allow time for processing and student response.
Remember: You should send in your FAFSA as soon as you can, regardless of deadlines. There’s a lot of financial aid out there—give yourself the best shot at getting the most assistance by applying early.