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A Guide to the FAFSA: School Selection

This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Vinay Bhaskara in a CollegeVine Livestream. You can watch the full Livestream for more info.


What’s Covered:



The FAFSA opens on October 1st, and submitting it as early as possible is very important. One section of the FAFSA is the section: “School Selection.” Students must select the schools who will receive their FAFSA information. 


It is important that students do not skip this step of the process – even if they have not finalized their College List. This article will walk you through how to properly complete the School Selection section of the FAFSA. 


For more information on financial aids that is specifically geared towards parents, refer to the following CollegeVine article for more guidance on Financial Aid Applications Through a Parents Lens


How to Add Schools to Your FAFSA List


Confirm Your High School


The first thing you will be asked to add is your high school. Anytime the language on the FAFSA says “you” and “yours,” it will always be referring to the student. In this section, you will enter information about the high school that the student is currently attending and planning to graduate from. 


Inserting the necessary information is straightforward. You can go in and search for the high school by entering the name of the school. For students who attend schools with common names, be sure to enter your city and state, as the name alone may yield various search results. Once you successfully find your school, be sure that you confirm that it is the correct school before clicking “Continue”.


Search By School Name


Once you have added the student’s current high school, you can now proceed to add colleges to their list. There are a couple of ways to search for schools in the FAFSA. 


The first is to do a text based search, similar to searching for the high school. It is very important to note that when searching using the school name, it is likely that multiple school options will appear. For example, if you simply type “Columbia” in search of Columbia University, a plethora of options will be presented. Therefore, you must be specific when adding schools to your list. Keep in mind that specifying the state does assist in constraining the search results.


Using the School Code


The easiest way to add a school to your FAFSA list is to insert the Federal School Code.


Finding a School Code is as easy as a ten second Google search, requiring only that you type the name of the school and “FAFSA code.” 


For example, if you are searching for the school code for the University of Chicago, you would type “University of Chicago FAFSA code.” The code for the university of your choice will show in the search results; simply copy and paste that number directly into the FAFSA.


Sending FAFSA to Multiple Schools


How many schools can a student send their FAFSA to?


When completing the FAFSA, keep in mind that you are only allowed to add 10 colleges to the FAFSA at one time. Though there are only 10 slots available on the FAFSA at any given moment, you can still submit information to more than 10 schools through the FAFSA for each application season.


What if a student is applying to more than 10 schools?


If a student plans to apply to more than 10 colleges, or simply needs to make adjustments to the schools on their list, they can. In order to submit a FAFSA to more than 10 institutions, the student must submit their FAFSA and include the first 10 schools that they would like to receive their information. 


Once the FAFSA is signed and submitted, all of the initial schools will receive the student’s information. To add new colleges or replace old ones, you can go back into the FAFSA and remove certain schools by clicking “Remove.” You can then add additional institutions in that spot.


Do note that this process may later present a challenge if you change information on your FAFSA.


What happens if you update the FAFSA information?


If you remove any schools from your FAFSA, any changes and updates to the FAFSA will not get submitted to the removed schools. The FAFSA will only submit updated information to the schools currently listed in their system at the time of each submission. 


If you do make changes to your FAFSA later in the cycle, you will have to reach out to each of the financial aid offices of those removed schools .


The Importance of Selecting a Housing Plan


As you are selecting schools for your list, FAFSA will ask you to select a housing plan. Whether a student will be living on campus, at home, or off campus, it is very important that you make a selection for this segment. The information in this section can change how colleges calculate your financial need, as well as how much financial aid you receive. 


Keep in mind that for most colleges, freshmen students are not allowed to live off campus. They will be required to live on campus or, if they are a commuter student, live with a parent. The most common college fee is tuition; however, all on-campus students are also charged a fee for room and board. Therefore, if a student is a commuter and living at home, their room and board costs will be zero, thus eliminating a financial need for housing. 


Be sure that you answer this question correctly by selecting the housing plan that is best for you or your student, as it has a direct impact on financial aid awards.