Complete the FAFSA
About the Scholarship
Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as the FAFSA®, is the most important step you can take to get money to help pay for college. All federal financial aid programs, many state aid programs, and some programs offered by individual colleges require students to complete the FAFSA®. Because the FAFSA® unlocks so many forms of financial aid, students from families of all incomes should complete the FAFSA®.
The FAFSA® opens to seniors on October 1st and remains open for several months, but the sooner you fill out the FAFSA® the better so that you don’t miss out on aid. States and colleges may have priority FAFSA® filing deadlines so make sure you know the deadlines for your state and the colleges you are interested in applying to.
With the College Board Opportunity Scholarships, students who fill out the FAFSA® will earn a chance at a $1,000 scholarship. If you are ineligible to complete the FAFSA®, you can still earn a chance at the scholarship on your My Action Plan page.
The College Board will award 200 Complete scholarships every month from October through December 2019 and 100 scholarships every month from January through February 2020.
How to Qualify
You can earn an entry for the Complete scholarship if:
- You submit the FAFSA®
- You submit the financial aid form for your state (some states have state aid forms that students who are ineligible for the FAFSA® can complete. Check here and/or talk to your counselor to see if your state has a state aid form you can submit.)
- OR you are legally ineligible to submit the FAFSA® or state aid form.
Once you submit the FAFSA® or your state’s aid form, log in to the College Board Opportunity Scholarships and confirm that you have submitted on the My Action Plan page. This will earn you one entry in the Complete scholarship drawing.
After reviewing the FAFSA® eligibility requirements referenced above, if you are legally ineligible to file the FAFSA® or your state’s aid form, you can still earn an entry for the Complete scholarship drawing on the My Action plan page.
- Join the College Board Opportunity Scholarships program.
- Go to My Action Plan and select the Complete scholarship card.
- If you have submitted the FAFSA® or a state aid form, or are ineligible to complete the FAFSA® or a state aid form, select the “Confirm your qualification” button in the FAFSA scholarship card.
Tips for Completing the FAFSA
- What is the FAFSA®?
The FAFSA® is the free federal form that students complete in order to apply for financial aid for their education after high school, including federal grants, work-study, and loans. Many states and colleges also use the information you provide on the FAFSA® to determine your eligibility for state and university financial aid, so it’s a critical step toward receiving money for your college education, including for universities, community colleges and vocational or technical schools.
- What will I need to fill out the FAFSA®?
To complete the FAFSA®, you will need:
- Your Social Security Number
- Your Alien Registration number (if you aren’t a U.S. citizen)
- Your federal income tax returns, W-2s, and other records of money earned. (Note: You may be able to transfer your federal tax return information into your FAFSA® form using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.)
- Bank statements and records of investments (if applicable)
- Records of untaxed income (if applicable)
- An FSA ID so you can electronically sign the FAFSA® form.
- When should I complete the FAFSA®?
You can complete the FAFSA® between October 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020. It is recommended that you fill out the FAFSA® as soon as you can after October 1 because many states and colleges have earlier deadlines for completing financial aid applications. Check the Federal Student Aid website to find your state’s deadlines.
- What happens after I complete the FAFSA®?
If you submitted your FAFSA® online, the U.S. Department of Education will process your application within 3-5 days. You’ll then receive a copy of your Student Aid Report (SAR). Review this summary of the information you provided on the FAFSA® and make sure the information is complete and accurate. Your SAR will be sent to the colleges you listed on your FAFSA® and will be used to determine your eligibility for federal and nonfederal student aid. If you are selected for the Complete scholarship and you submitted the FAFSA® or a state aid form, you will be asked to provide documentation that confirms your submission (ex: the FAFSA® submission confirmation email you received). If you are legally ineligible to complete the FAFSA® or your state aid form, you won't be required to take further action.
Dates and Deadlines
You can confirm that you have submitted the FAFSA® or a state aid form, or that you are legally ineligible to submit the FAFSA® or a state aid form, beginning in October 2019 through the end of February 2020.
Once you earn an entry for the Complete scholarship, your entry will roll forward into all later Complete drawings. The sooner you submit the FAFSA® and/or your state aid form, or indicate that you are ineligible to submit the FAFSA® or your state aid form, and indicate it on the My Action Plan page, the better your chances.
Scholarships are awarded every month from October 2019 through February 2020. A new eligibility window starts on the first day of each month and ends at midnight on the last day of the month. The drawing occurs on the first day of the following month.
From October through December 2019, 200 students will be randomly selected on the drawing dates to receive a $1,000 scholarship. 100 of those scholarships will go to students whose families earn less than $60,000 per year.
From January through February 2020, 100 students will be randomly selected on the drawing dates to receive a $1,000 scholarship. 50 of those scholarships will go to students who families earn less than $60,000 per year.
We’ll notify winning students by email to check their results on the My Achievements page.
Your My Action Plan progress tracker will update when you’ve earned an entry. After the first drawing, you’ll also see your earned entries on the My Achievements page.
Yes, you should complete and submit your FAFSA® first and then confirm your FAFSA® submission on the Complete scholarship card.
If you are ineligible to submit the FAFSA®, you should check to see if your state has a state aid form you can submit. If your state does offer an aid form that you can submit, you should first submit it and then confirm your submission on the Complete scholarship card.
If you are legally ineligible to submit the FAFSA® or a state aid form, you can still earn an entry for the Complete scholarship on the Complete scholarship card.
The FAFSA® has requirements for citizenship/permanent resident status. You need a Social Security Number (SSN) to complete the FAFSA®. If you are ineligible to complete the FAFSA®, you can still earn an entry for the Complete scholarship by going to the My Action Plan page. You should check to see if your state has a state aid form that you can submit even if you are ineligible for the FAFSA® so that you can access state and/or university aid.
No. Your parents’ citizenship status doesn’t affect your eligibility for federal student aid. In fact, the FAFSA® form doesn’t even ask about your parents’ status. Since your parents’ citizenship doesn’t affect your ability to complete the FAFSA® form, they don’t need SSNs. If your parents don’t have SSNs, they must enter 000-00-0000 when the FAFSA® form asks for your parents’ SSNs. If your parents don’t have SSNs, they won’t be able to create FSA IDs and therefore won’t be able to sign your FAFSA® form electronically. You’ll have to print out the signature page from the online FAFSA® form so that your parents can sign it and mail it to the address indicated.
One of the biggest myths about financial aid is that you can’t (or shouldn’t) submit the FAFSA® if your parents have a high income. Everyone, regardless of their parents’ income, should submit the FAFSA®. The FAFSA® unlocks more than federal grants and aid. Many states, aid programs and colleges require that you fill out the FAFSA® to be eligible for other forms of aid including work-study and loans. By not completing the FAFSA®, students missed out an estimated $2.7 billion in free FAFSA® college aid in 2016, according to NerdWallet. The requirement to earn an entry for the Complete scholarship is to submit the FAFSA®, not necessarily to demonstrate financial need.