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 aid from individual colleges require students to complete the FAFSA. Because it unlocks so many types of financial aid, students from families of all incomes should complete the FAFSA.
The FAFSA opens on October 1. Seniors can earn entries for this Opportunity Scholarship from October through February. Many states and colleges have priority FAFSA filing deadlines, so make sure you know the deadlines for your state and the colleges you’re interested in applying to. The College Board will award 500 Opportunity Scholarships every month from October through December and 100 scholarships every month from January through February.
With the College Board Opportunity Scholarships, students who fill out the FAFSA will earn a chance at a scholarship. If you're ineligible to complete the FAFSA, you can still earn a chance at the scholarship on your My Action Plan page.
How to Qualify
You can earn an entry for this 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're legally ineligible to submit both the FAFSA and a state aid form.
Once you submit the FAFSA or your state’s aid form, log in to the College Board Opportunity Scholarships and confirm you’ve submitted on the My Action Plan page. This will earn you one entry in the Opportunity Scholarship drawing.
If you’re legally ineligible to file both the FAFSA and your state’s aid form (see the FAFSA eligibility requirements referenced above), you can still earn an entry for the Opportunity Scholarship drawing on the My Action plan page.
- Join or log in to the College Board Opportunity Scholarships program.
- Go to My Action Plan and select the Complete the FAFSA scholarship card.
- If you've submitted the FAFSA or a state aid form, or you're ineligible to complete both 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 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 do I need to fill out the FAFSA?
To complete the FAFSA, you need:
When should I complete the FAFSA?
- 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 and Save Key so you can save your progress and electronically sign the FAFSA form.
- To get started, go to fafsa.gov or download the myStudentAid app on your phone.
- 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’re selected for this Opportunity Scholarship and you submitted the FAFSA or a state aid form, you’ll be asked to provide documentation that confirms your submission (such as the FAFSA submission confirmation email you received). If you’re legally ineligible to complete the FAFSA or your state aid form, you won't be required to take further action.
- Where can I get help filling out the FAFSA?
Most students need help completing the FAFSA, but it’s not always easy to find help that’s easy to access and understand. Students participating in the College Board Opportunity Scholarships are eligible to use Wyatt℠, a free FAFSA assistance chatbot that answers questions you text. Offered in partnership with Benefits Data Trust, Wyatt is available 24/7 from a mobile phone. To sign up:
- Join the College Board Opportunity Scholarships program.
- Go to My Action Plan and select the Complete the FAFSA card.
- Click on Need help filling out the FAFSA?
- Submit your name and mobile number in the opt-in form.
Students can also get support by visiting the Office of Federal Student Aid’s help page, or calling their hotline at 1-800-4FED-AID. Learn more about how to sign up for assistance from Wyatt at getfafsahelp.org.
The Opportunity Scholarship will open to seniors in October when the FAFSA application becomes available. It's recommended that you fill out the FAFSA as soon as you can because many states and colleges have early deadlines for completing their financial aid applications. Check the Federal Student Aid website to find your state’s deadlines.
Dates and Deadlines
To be eligible for this scholarship, you must confirm that you’ve submitted the FAFSA or a state aid form, or that you’re legally ineligible to submit both the FAFSA and a state aid form, beginning in October.
The sooner you confirm, the better your chances.
Scholarships are awarded every month from October through February. 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, 500 students will be randomly selected on the drawing dates to receive a $500 scholarship. Of those scholarships, 250 will go to students whose families earn less than $60,000 per year.
From January through February, 100 students will be randomly selected on the drawing dates to receive a $500 scholarship. Of those scholarships, 50 will go to students whose families earn less than $60,000 per year.
If you’re selected for a scholarship, you’ll be notified by email and prompted to go to your 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 entry on the My Achievements page.
Yes—you should complete and submit your FAFSA first and then confirm your FAFSA submission on the Complete the FAFSA card.
If you’re 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, you should first submit it and then confirm your submission on the Complete the FAFSA card.
If you’re legally ineligible to submit the FAFSA or a state aid form, you can still earn an entry for this Opportunity Scholarship on the Complete the FAFSA card.
The FAFSA has requirements for citizenship/permanent resident status. You need a Social Security number (SSN) to complete the FAFSA. If you’re ineligible to complete the FAFSA, you can still earn an entry for this Opportunity 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’re ineligible for the FAFSA so you can access state and/or university aid.
Yes. 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 can’t sign your FAFSA form electronically. You’ll have to print out the signature page from the online FAFSA form so 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 on an estimated $2.7 billion in free FAFSA college aid in 2016, according to NerdWallet. The requirement to earn an entry for this Opportunity Scholarship is to submit the FAFSA, not necessarily to demonstrate financial need.