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When can I start my 2024-25 FAFSA®?

    Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) can help ensure you receive the aid you might need for college that you’re eligible for. Consider it your first step in accessing all federal financial aid and many other aid types.

    Continue reading to learn more about FAFSA® deadlines, when you should start applying, and some information you likely need to file your FAFSA® for the upcoming academic year.

    When’s the earliest you can submit the FAFSA® for 2024-25?

    The 2024-25 FAFSA® opened at the end of December, 2023; the deadline is June 30, 2025. The 2024-25 FAFSA® had a delayed open date, and the 2025-26 application will likely open in October 2024, not December (although the exact date has yet to be announced).

    Keep in mind that the colleges you’re applying to and your state of residence may have their own deadlines when it comes to applying for financial aid, so familiarize yourself with those dates, too.

    Given how long you have to file the FAFSA®, you might wonder when the best time to file is. The answer to that is that the earlier, the better. That’s because some aid is first come, first served, and you don’t want to miss out on aid you might be eligible for just because you file later.

    What you’ll need to file the FAFSA®

    To ensure you’re prepared and ready to file your FAFSA®, here’s a list of items to gather before tackling the application.

    1. Your Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID

    Your FSA ID is your unique username that you’ll need to use to complete and update your FAFSA® electronically. If you’re a dependent student, your parent will need their own FSA ID to complete the FAFSA® process electronically. It’s recommended to create your FSA ID before you set out to complete your FAFSA® form since it can take up to three days to use your FSA ID when you first create it.

    2. Your basic information

    You’ll need to come armed with basic identifying information when you’re ready to file your FAFSA®. This includes your date of birth, address, email, and Social Security number.

    You can find your Social Security number on your Social Security card. If you can’t access your Social Security number or lost it, request a new card from the Social Security Administration.

    You'll need your Alien Registration number if you’re not a U.S. citizen but meet other eligibility criteria for federal student aid as an eligible noncitizen.

    Both you and your parent (if you’re a dependent) will need this information for the FAFSA®.

    3. Your driver’s license information (if you have one)

    If you have one, you'll be asked to provide your driver’s license information on your FAFSA®. If you don’t have a driver's license or don’t wish to give that information, you can skip this step.

    4. Your federal tax return from two years prior

    If you're a dependent student, you and your parent must report income information from two years before the academic year you’re filing the FAFSA® for. If you’re an independent student (as defined by FAFSA®), you and your spouse, if you have one, will need to report income information from two years prior. In the case of the 2024-25 FAFSA®, you’ll be using your tax information from 2022.

    As of the 2024-25 FAFSA®, you’ll need to provide consent for your tax information to be imported directly from the IRS. If you don’t file taxes, there’s a code that the IRS will import into your form that indicates that you’re a non-tax filer.

    5. Any records of untaxed income

    The FAFSA® has questions about untaxed income, including child support, interest income, and veterans’ noneducation benefits. If applicable, ensure you and your parent (if you’re a dependent) come armed with information about untaxed income when filing the FAFSA®

    6. You and your parent’s (if you’re a dependent) checking and savings account balances

    There’s a section on the FAFSA® where you and your parent (if you’re a dependent student) will separately report checking and savings account balances. The balances you report on the FAFSA® are your current balances, not those from the tax year you’re using to file the FAFSA®.

    7. You and your parent’s investments

    Investments for the purposes of the FAFSA® include stocks, bonds, real estate (excluding your primary residence), small businesses, and family farms. You'll need to report the current amounts when you file the FAFSA® rather than reporting the amounts for the tax year you’re using to file the FAFSA®.

    8. The schools you want to supply your FAFSA® information to

    Even if you haven’t applied or been accepted to any colleges yet, you should add any college on your FAFSA® form that you’re considering attending. You'll be able to remove a school later if you decide not to apply there, but if you wait to add a school, you may miss out on financial aid for that school.

    The schools you list on your FAFSA® form will receive your FAFSA® information electronically. Your FAFSA® information will be used to determine the types and amounts of financial aid you may receive. Schools will ultimately award aid (and will vary by school). You can list up to 20 schools at a time on your FAFSA® as of the 2024-25 application.

    Final thoughts

    Filing the FAFSA® as early as possible will give you the peace of mind that you’ve completed a critical step in the college application process. If you apply early, you may also gain access to first-come, first-served aid.