A college education is becoming increasingly necessary for financial success in the United States. For potential students who need help paying for a degree, many forms of financial aid are available, including government scholarships. However, in order to receive this free money for college, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, among other steps.

Determine your eligibility. Government financial aid is only available to students who meet certain criteria. For example, you must have a social security number and plan to enroll in an eligible program. Visit the U.S. Department of Education's Federal Student Aid website to view the list of requirements and find out if you qualify for federal financial aid.

Gather the documents you'll need to apply for government financial aid. These items include your social security card, driver's license, tax forms and bank statements. You will also need your parent's tax and financial information if you are a dependent. Visit official FAFSA website, www.fafsa.ed.gov, for a complete and up-to-date list of necessary documents.

Go to the Federal Aid PIN website and apply for a PIN. This is a four digit code that you will need to electronically sign your application for government financial aid. Once you receive your PIN, write it down and keep it in a secure place for future use.

Visit FAFSA website and complete the application. You should be able to easily complete this application in less than an hour if you have all the necessary documents with you.

Contact your college of choice. Talk to a financial aid or enrollment counselor to find out the specific steps a student must make to receive federal student aid. For example, you may need to provide college transcripts or complete more forms.

Accept your financial aid award letter. Once you've completed all steps necessary to receive government financial aid, your college will determine the amount you are eligible to receive. You will be contacted and asked to sign an award letter if you choose to use these funds.


Pay attention to deadlines. The FAFSA website provides the deadline for submitting your FAFSA online. Your college may have different deadlines. Find these dates out as soon as you decide to apply for federal aid.

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