College in the United States is very expensive, and most students need to find ways to help finance their education. Whether it's applying for a grant or scholarship or financial assistance through FAFSA, students will need to have some information handy in order to correctly fill out all the forms. If you decide to apply through FAFSA, then one of the things you'll need to have is your school's OPE code. Finding an OPE code is not too difficult, once you know where to go to search for it.

What Is an OPE Code?

OPE ID code stands for "The Office of Postsecondary Education Identification." The number is used by the U.S. Department of Education to identify colleges that have Program Participation Agreements, allowing their students to enroll in federal financial aid programs.

This code helps those looking over your application know which school you're attending or will attend. It's a six-digit code which is followed by a two-digit suffix to distinguish different locations or branches of the school. It begins with a 0, B, G or E and then has a five-digit number.

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These days, you might have a hard time finding anything under "OPE ID" or "OPE code." This is because the Department of Education now uses the term "Federal School Code" to describe this unique number. They may also use the term "FAFSA school code."

Why Do Students Need an OPE Code?

An OPE code, or Federal School Code, is used to help distinguish your school from other schools, and keep applications and applicants organized. As there are thousands of colleges in the United States and millions of students that apply this year, an OPE code is essential. You'll need this code when you fill out your FAFSA form to apply for federal student aid (i.e. student loans and/or grants), as the form will ask you to include it before submitting.

How to Find an OPE Code?

Now that you know what an OPE code or Federal School Code is, how do you find it? Finding your OPE code is very easy, and there are many places where you can do a search. The first place to try is your college or university's website, as they usually have their Federal School Code listed somewhere, perhaps on the tuition or financial aid page.

Otherwise, there are several other ways to find your school's Federal School Code. Firstly, you can utilize the Federal School Code search tool on the U.S Department of Education website. The FAFSA form itself also has a tool which you can use to look up the OPE ID. There's also a Federal School Code Excel sheet, or you can call FAFSA at 1-800-4-FED-AID to do the OPE ID lookup.

If you're unsure about whether or not you have the correct OPE ID, you can cross-check it on all of these platforms. There's no reason that any of the codes would be mislabeled but just in case you want to be extra sure.

When to Use the OPE ID?

When you fill out your FAFSA form to apply for federal student aid, you'll need to have several things by your side, including your parent's tax returns, your social security number as well as your driver's license number if you have it. While you're filling out the FASFA form, at some point you will have to put in the Federal School Codes.

If you're not sure what school you'll be attending yet, you can put the codes of the schools you're considering. Make sure to look up the deadlines ahead of time so that you don't miss your opportunity to get financial aid.

About the Author

Hana LaRock is a freelance content writer from New York, currently living in Mexico. She has spent the last 5 years traveling the world and living abroad and has lived in South Korea and Israel. Before becoming a writer, Hana worked as a teacher for several years in the U.S. and around the world. She has her teaching certification in Elementary Education and Special Education, as well as a TESOL certification. Hana spent a semester studying abroad at Tel Aviv University during her undergraduate years at the University of Hartford. She hopes to use her experience to help inform others. Please visit her website,, to learn more.