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What Is the FAFSA?

How to apply for federal financial aid

More than half of all college students receive federal financial aid. To find out what aid you qualify to receive, simply fill out the government’s Free Application for Student Aid, or FAFSA. Your financial aid will be determined by the information you provide.

Once your FAFSA is processed, you’ll receive word through CollegeAmerica about which aid you qualify for and what your next steps are. We’ll help you all along the way! Call us at (800) 622-2894 or click here to request more information.

How do I apply?

Five Easy Steps to Qualify for Federal Financial Aid:

Apply with the FAFSA (Free Application For Federal Student Aid).

You can complete this application online at, or get a paper FAFSA form from our financial aid office, your local library, or by calling the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243). You can apply beginning January 1 of the year you plan to attend school, until June 30 of the following year. Apply early!

Keep a copy of your application.

Make a copy of your application (or print out a copy of your online FAFSA) so you’ll have one for your records. Save all other records as well, in case there’s a need to verify the information you reported.

Verify your information on your Student Aid Report (SAR).

Depending on what method you used to fill out your FAFSA, your Student Aid Report will be mailed to you or provided online. This report confirms the information you reported and states your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is a measure of your family’s financial strength and is used to determine your eligibility for federal student aid.

Contact us.

Talk with your financial aid advisor at CollegeAmerica. Make sure we have the information needed to determine your eligibility. We will review your SAR, and we will contact you with the amount of federal financial aid you qualify for. We can also refer you to other potential sources of financial aid.

Research private financial aid options.

Check with your financial aid advisor for help find private financial aid options that apply in your state. Also, download our guide to financial aid for more information.
What Information Will I Need to Provide?

The following checklist will help you gather the information you’ll need to complete your FAFSA. By keeping copies of this information, you’ll save yourself time later when you apply for private aid, as many sources require this same information (download our guide to financial aid).

FAFSA Checklist

  • Your Social Security Number (you can find this on your Social Security card).
  • Your previous year’s federal income tax return and that of your spouse, if you are married and filing separately.
  • Any records showing money earned in the previous tax year that doesn’t appear on your previous year’s return.
  • If you’re a dependent student, your parents’ previous year’s federal income tax return.
  • Any foreign tax returns or tax returns from Puerto Rico (if applicable).
  • Your previous year’s untaxed income records, including Social Security, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, welfare, or veterans’ benefits records (if applicable).
  • Your previous year’s bank statements.
  • Your previous year’s records for investments, business, and mortgage (if applicable).
  • Your alien registration card (if you are not a U.S. citizen).
  • If you want CollegeAmerica to put together a financial aid plan for you, enter our school code (025943 or 031203 in Arizona) on your application.
Helpful FAFSA Hints
  • Read all the school information carefully. If you have any questions about costs or other important information, contact our financial aid department for the answers you need.
  • Complete your paperwork carefully and completely, following the instructions closely.
  • Pay close attention to deadline dates, so you won’t miss out on aid awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Answer any letters or email you receive right away. Otherwise, you may miss a deadline.
  • Keep copies of everything, including forms and communication both sent and received relating to your application.
  • Reapply for financial aid by the deadline each year to maintain eligibility.

Still have questions? We’ll walk you through the process. Call us at 1-800-622-2894 or click here to request more information.

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† Graphic Arts programs are offered fully online by our affiliated institution, Independence University.
†† Master’s degree programs are offered fully online by our affiliated institution, Independence University.