The U.S. Department of Education uses the FAFSA to determine how much students and their families are expected to contribute towards college expenses. Additionally, colleges use the FAFSA to determine how much aid students qualify for and what they can award students.
The FAFSA is considered to be a “snapshot” of a family’s financial situation as of the date that an application is submitted. Students must submit the FAFSA for each year they attend college, starting on October 1. There is no fee to submit the FAFSA.
Prepare to Submit the FAFSA
You and your student will need to gather income records and financial documents prior to filling out the FAFSA. To organize your information prior to filling out an application, download the FAFSA worksheet.
Get Help Filling Out the FAFSA
You and your student can get help from a FAFSA expert at a financial aid workshop at your student's school. Bring the completed FAFSA worksheet so you can ask specific questions relating to your application. Ask your student's counselor for FAFSA workshop dates and times.
Free Financial Aid and FAFSA Completion Workshops in English or Spanish are offered across Illinois through the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC), the financial aid agency in the State of Illinois.
Different Ways to Submit the FAFSA
- Apply online at FAFSA.gov
- Fill out the form in the myStudentAid mobile app, available on the App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android)
- By mail: complete a 2020–21 FAFSA PDF (for students who will enroll in college during the 2020-2021 academic year), or request a print-out of the FAFSA PDF by calling at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) or 334-523-2691 (TTY for the deaf or hard of hearing (1-800-730-8913). Fill out the form and mail it to: Federal Student Aid Programs, P.O. Box 7650, London, KY 40742-7650.
Under the Illinois RISE (Retaining Illinois Students and Equity) Act, noncitizen students and transgender students who were previously ineligible for federal financial aid (FAFSA) may apply for state assistance by completing the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid. This application is managed by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission and will determine a student’s aid eligibility based on status and financial need.
Some colleges, universities, and scholarship programs may require applicants and their families seeking financial aid to complete the CSS Profile in addition to the FAFSA or the Alternative Application for Illinois Financial Aid. The CSS Profile requires payment of a fee but fee waivers are available. This application collects information used by nearly 400 colleges and scholarship programs to award non-government financial aid such as grants and scholarships.
The CSS Profile requires more detailed financial information than the FAFSA. View the current list of institutions that require the CSS Profile.