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How Long to Fill Out the FAFSA? How to Do It Quickly

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It’s no secret that college is expensive. Thankfully, grants, scholarships, and financial aid packages can help you drastically reduce the cost of college and minimize the number of student loans you’ll need to repay in the future.


The Free Application for Student Aid, more popularly known as the FAFSA, is one of the most popular methods for obtaining financial assistance for college. The FAFSA is an application that high school seniors can fill out to receive federal financial aid to help pay tuition.


If you’re a high school senior, chances are, you have a lot on your plate. College application essays, university tours, schoolwork, and extracurricular activities are likely to keep your schedule extremely busy.


Instead of making your life more complicated with another time-consuming application process, here are some tips to quickly fill out your FAFSA this year!


When Does the FAFSA Open and When is it Due?


The FAFSA application for the following academic year opens on October 1st each year. So, that means the 2021-2022 FAFSA opened on October 1st, 2020, and the 2022-2023 FAFSA will open on October 1st, 2021.


The federal deadline to submit the FAFSA this year is June 30th, 2021. The FAFSA is always due on June 30th, so the 2022-2023 FAFSA will be due on June 30th, 2022. This deadline gives students nearly nine months to complete their FAFSA application. However, it’s always best to finish your FAFSA as quickly as possible.


Many colleges have their own deadlines for completing the FAFSA, so the sooner you can complete your FAFSA, the better. Plus, since schools have a limited amount of money to offer aid, you may earn more financial assistance if you apply earlier.


Students will have until September 11th, 2021, to submit corrections for the 2020-2021 FAFSA. For the 2022-2023 school year, this date will change to September 10th, 2022.


Discover your chances at hundreds of schools

Our free chancing engine takes into account your history, background, test scores, and extracurricular activities to show you your real chances of admission—and how to improve them.


How Long Does It Take To Fill Out the FAFSA?


On average, it takes students about one hour to fill out the FAFSA. However, you can speed up the process by utilizing the following tips.


4 Tips for Filling Out the FAFSA Quickly


If you’re well prepared, you can easily fill out the FAFSA in less than an hour. Check out our ultimate guide to filling out the FAFSA, and read our four most helpful tips below!


1. Create a Federal Student Aid ID


The first step you’ll need to fill out your FAFSA is a Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID). Essentially, this is the username and password you’ll use to log in to your FAFSA account online. When you’re finished with the FAFSA, you will use your FSA ID as your legally binding signature.


You can create your FSA ID on the Federal Student Aid website. Both your parents will also need to create an FSA ID unless they already have an FSA ID from the past.


You can create your FSA ID before the FAFSA opens on October 1st. It’s best to make your account several weeks before you plan to apply because it takes the Social Security Administration up to three days to verify your information. You will need your Social Security number to create an FSA ID, so if you don’t have your number memorized, be sure to have your card with you.


It’s essential to keep your FSA ID username and password confidential. Not only does it contain your Social Security number, but it acts as your legal signature.


2. Collect Your Parents’ Information


If you are financially dependent on your parents, you will need their financial and tax information to fill out the FAFSA. If your family situation is complicated, feel free to use this resource to help you determine who your parent is, according to the FAFSA form.


Before you start your application, here is a list of information required from you and your parents:


  • Family income and tax information from two years ago (for example, for the 2021-2022 FAFSA, you’ll need tax information from 2019)
  • Value of assets
  • W2s
  • Bank statements
  • Driver’s licenses
  • Social Security numbers
  • Dates of birth


Having this information at hand before you fill out the FAFSA will significantly speed along the process. Preferably, ask your parents to help you collect this information before October 1st, so you can submit your form as soon as the application period opens.


3. Know Your Schools


When you fill out the FAFSA, you will need to include the names of the schools you’ve already applied to or where you are planning to apply.


If you aren’t entirely sure which schools you’ll apply to—don’t worry. You’ll be able to make changes to your FAFSA form later. However, it’s worth brainstorming at least ten schools you think you might apply to, so you can avoid making edits to your form and delaying the financial aid process.


4. Gather Your Tax Information from the IRS Website


If your parents don’t have your family’s tax information from two years ago on hand, you’ll need to collect your tax information from the IRS website.


Previously, the FAFSA used tax information from the year before, which required crunching numbers and estimating taxes. Now, the FAFSA uses information from two years before the application period, so you’ll be able to save plenty of time by copying exact numbers from the IRS website onto your application.


Once you’re finished collecting all the information you need to fill out the FAFSA, you can start working on your application! If you have questions about completing the FAFSA, watch this live stream video from CollegeVine that explains the FAFSA application process from start to finish.


How Long Does It Take for the FAFSA to Be Approved?


Typically, your FAFSA application will be processed in three to five business days. You’ll usually get your results back about two weeks after submitting your form. At this point, the Department of Education will also send your results to any colleges you included on your FAFSA application.


Once colleges receive your results, they will usually send a financial aid award letter anywhere from one to three months later. Typically, the earlier you submit your FAFSA, the more quickly you’ll receive financial aid letters from the schools you selected.


Did you decide to apply for a school you didn’t include on your FAFSA application? Has your household or dependency status changed? Did you simply make a mistake on your form? If so, log in to your account on the Federal Student Aid website to make changes to your FAFSA as soon as possible to prevent delays in financial aid letters.


How Much Will College Cost Your Family?


When it’s time to choose where you’ll attend college, it’s important to apply to schools that are likely to admit you and can also match your financial need.


CollegeVine’s free chancing engine is the perfect tool to factor in your extracurriculars, background, GPA, and other factors to determine your chances for admission at hundreds of colleges across the country. You can also use our cost calculator to discover which schools are the best financial fit for your family by factoring in the need-based aid, merit scholarships, and student loans you qualify for.



Short Bio
Brittany Sawyer is a graduate of Grand Canyon University, where she majored in Marketing and minored in Professional Writing. She works as a freelance copywriter and lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with her husband and her golden retriever, Sedona. When Brittany isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking, trying new coffee shops, and traveling.