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Apply for FAFSA to Get Federal Student Aid

Tennessee has set a new record and for the third year in a row has led the nation with the highest percentage of students filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Nearly three quarters of all Tennessee high school seniors—73.5 percent—filed the FAFSA for the 2017-18 academic year. Filing the FAFSA is a requirement to be eligible for both federal and state aid, including Tennessee Promise and the HOPE Lottery Scholarship.

For students who will start college in the fall of 2018, it’s a good time to think about financial aid.

Look at Financial Aid Options

The U.S. Department of Education offers federal student aid programs to help lessen the cost of a college education. To apply for federal student aid, parents or students should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This program determines how much student aid college students receive each year.

FAFSA is the most important action parents or students can take to receive financial aid. Hundreds of thousands of college students gain financial aid from FAFSA, which provides more than $120 billion in student aid each year.

The FAFSA becomes available on October 1. It’s a good idea for high school seniors to try to complete the application as soon as possible.

Once families complete and submit the FAFSA, they will get a Student Aid Report (SAR). This report provides information about their financial aid eligibility, including the Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

The EFC is used to determine the approximate amount the family is expected to contribute to the student’s education costs each year. That amount is based on the information provided on the FAFSA for that year.

Families need to complete the FAFSA every year.

When and How to Apply

Students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online at fafsa.gov. The 2018-19 FAFSA becomes available on October 1, 2017. Based upon information submitted in the FAFSA, colleges determine financial aid eligibility for their enrolling students.

A parent and the student must both create a FSA ID (username and password) to complete the FAFSA application. Parents and students are both encouraged to create their FSA IDs as soon they can online at fsaid.ed.gov. That will help them be ready to complete the FAFSA this fall or winter. Again, the 2018-19 FAFSA becomes available on October 1.

FAFSA Checklist

Families should have the following information and documents to fill out the 2018-19 FAFSA:

  • Student’s Social Security number
  • Parent(s)’ Social Security number(s)
    • If a parent does not have a Social Security Number, enter 000-00-0000.
  • Student’s driver’s license/permit/state issued ID number (if the student has one)
  • Student’s Alien Registration Number (if the student is not a U.S. citizen)
  • 2016 tax information, including 2016 W2s for student and parent(s) (if required to file)
  • Records of 2016 untaxed income, such as child support and veterans noneducation benefits, for student and parent(s)
  • Current information on checking and savings account balances; investments; and business and farm assets for student and parent(s)
  • Student’s email address (if the student has one)
  • Parent’s email address (if the parent has one)
  • Student’s Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID username/password
    • The student may create an FSA ID username/password by visiting fsaid.ed.gov today or while completing the 2018-19 FAFSA.
  • Parent’s FSA ID username/password
    • A parent may create an FSA ID username/password by visiting fsaid.ed.gov today or while completing the 2018-19 FAFSA.
    • If neither parent has a Social Security Number, they will be unable to create an FSA ID. Instead, one parent will need to print, sign, and mail the signature page downloadable on the sign & submit screen of the FAFSA.

Tennessee Reconnect Act

In partnership with the General Assembly, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has made Tennessee the first state in the nation to offer all citizens—both high school graduates and adults—the chance to earn a postsecondary degree or certificate free of tuition and at no cost to taxpayers.

Building off the pioneering Tennessee Promise, which provides high school graduates two years of community or technical college free of tuition and fees, TNReconnect establishes a last-dollar scholarship for adults to attend a community college tuition-free.

Tennessee adults without a certificate can already attend Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCATs) tuition-free under the current Reconnect program. Starting with the 2018-19 school year, the Tennessee Reconnect Act adds community colleges to the program, funded through the Lottery for Education account.

Imagine your family’s future. Reconnect today, tuition-free. Learn more at TNReconnect.gov.

Additional Resources

Find out if you’re eligible to apply for Tennessee’s HOPE Scholarship Program.

It’s never too early to start preparing for college. The state of Tennessee provides steps you can take as your child grows.

Explore the different roads your child can take after high school, and how to prepare for each.