How to Apply for Financial Aid. Financial aid can help you attend a more expensive school, rather than settling for the best you can afford. There are many types of financial aid available for those willing to fill out the necessary forms.

Apply between January 1 and June 30. Check with the individual schools where you are applying; some have deadlines as early as January.

Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, which you can obtain from the Office of Post-Secondary Education. It includes a Student Aid Report, which helps determine your expected family contribution.

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Use a No. 2 pencil or black ink to complete the application.

Be prepared to give general information such as your name, address, social security number, citizenship status, marital status and type of degree you earned in high school.

Be prepared to give financial information such as total family income, number of people in the household and number of people in college. Round numbers to the nearest whole dollar amount.

List six schools you are interested in attending. You can change them if you find that the schools don't provide the financial support you need.

Sign and date the application form.

Photocopy every sheet of the application for your records.

Wait for the results of your application, including the amount of financial aid you can expect to receive. It will be sent to you and to the schools you have applied to.

Tip

Fill out a FAFSA form online at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/fill1.htm. Call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at (800) 4-FED-AID or check the FAFSA Web site if you have any questions. If you're having trouble deciding what to apply for and determining your financial status, find a financial aid consultant. Remember that money borrowed from the government must be repaid once you have finished school. You may be eligible for more than one kind of financial aid. Explore the possibilities.

Warning

Financial aid consultants provide additional information about aid programs, but hiring one will cause your application forms to be heavily scrutinized.

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