The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is a form that families or individuals complete to apply for federal grants, loans or work-study funds for college. The application process is free, and it is managed though the U.S. Department of Education.

While the U.S. Department of Education provides approximately $150 billion in student assistance a year, it is very important to understand your FAFSA eligibility and how to check your application status. Your eligibility will always depend on your current financial status, and your current financial needs based on the information you submit on the application. Applicants may either be eligible for student grants, which do not have to be paid back, or student loans, which do require repayment.

Understanding the FAFSA Application Process

The first step in the FAFSA process is to apply for a FAFSA identification number. Once you have secured the ID, you will then complete the full application. This process may be initiated in person at the financial aid office of your school or online. Obtaining the ID is important as it allows you to sign forms electronically. After the application has been submitted, it is important to regularly check the status of your application.

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How to Check FAFSA Status

You may be wondering how to check FAFSA status after you apply. One way to check FAFSA status is to visit the financial aid office at your school. Be sure to bring copies of pertinent information including your FAFSA ID. If there are funds that have been disbursed directly to your school, you may check the status of this money at your financial aid office. Once you have submitted your forms, it is important to regularly check the status of FAFSA applications.

The other option is to check the status of your FAFSA application online. The first step is to log in to the FASFA homepage. Next, locate the “My FAFSA” page and click to access it, however, it may display automatically once you log in. It is important to note, that if you submitted a paper application through your financial aid office, you should wait seven to 10 days after it was mailed to check the status. Prior to that, there may be no updates to your application.

Lastly, you may check the status of your FAFSA application by calling the Federal Student Aid Information Center using the toll-free number: 1-800-433-3243. To ensure a successful call, have your full name, date of birth, social security number and your FAFSA ID available. You will not be able to access your account and check your status without this information.

About the Author

Melanie Forstall has been an educator for over 20 years. She holds a doctorate in special education with a focus in school improvement. She has served as a classroom teacher, grant administrator, and higher education instructor.