How do I apply for federal financial aid?

In order to receive financial aid from the federal government, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  The FAFSA is available after January 1st and must be filed by March 2nd of each year.  You can complete the FAFSA online at or download a copy at and mail it in.  This application is free, so if the website tries to charge you, make sure you’ve gone to the websites listed above!

Before you can submit the FAFSA online, you must first get a Personal Identification Number (PIN).  Your PIN is your password and prevents others from accessing your personal information and helps complete the electronic process.  You can obtain your PIN at  You may use your PIN throughout the financial aid process and also when applying for aid for graduate school.  Make sure to write down your PIN and keep it in a safe place, as you will need to submit a new FAFSA every year you are in school.  Never let others borrow your PIN.

If you need help completing the FAFSA, you can ask your school counselor, CSW or TC for help.  Also, there are many financial aid workshops available to foster youth throughout the year that can help you complete the FAFSA and answer any financial aid questions you might have.  Please ask your CSW, TC, or attorney about these workshops.

NOTE: If you do not have your high school diploma or its equivalent (i.e. the GED or CHSPE), you will not be able to receive federal financial aid.