Is FAFSA Required for College Applications?

You’ve heard about the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), but do you NEED to complete it with your college applications? The short answer is no. Applying to colleges does not necessitate filling out the FAFSA, but you will likely want to do so. Read on to find out why.

What Is the FAFSA?

The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is the federal government’s financial aid form. It is how the government determines if you qualify for aid. And for many colleges, it is how they judge the estimated and actual financial aid that should be awarded.

College Applications and FAFSA Are Separate Entities

Your college applications and FAFSA are mutually exclusive. They are submitted to different places, and they are submitted at different times of the year. The FAFSA is submitted to the federal government, and the applications are submitted to each school.

When You Need to Complete the FAFSA

For our students, we like to start submitting college applications towards the end of August into September. 95% of our students are done completely submitting their applications by November 1st.

The FAFSA application becomes available on October 1st. As mentioned above, it is not required across the board, but there are circumstances when you do NEED to complete the form:

• If you want to receive the Federal Direct Student Loan. Anyone can receive this loan regardless of financial position BUT you must complete the FAFSA in order to do so. Students can receive $5500 Freshman year, $6500 Sophomore year, and $7500 Junior and Senior Year. This is truly a student loan, no one needs to co-sign for it.

• If you want to receive a Federal PLUS Loan (Parent Loan), you must also complete the FAFSA.

• If you are looking for financial aid, which is different from merit money, from colleges.

•If the school to which you are applying requires it in order to receive a merit scholarship – not be awarded a scholarship, but to receive it. Not many schools have this requirement, but some do. You have until June 30th to submit the FAFSA, so if you find out from a school that they are requiring the form, you should have plenty of time to submit it.

Again, the FAFSA has nothing to do with submitting your college application. The two are completely mutually exclusive; however, there are times when you may need to complete the form.

Looking for help with the college search and application process? We help students and families through the entire college planning journey – from search, applications and essays to interview prep, financial aid consultation and final school selection.

Contact us at or by phone, 845.551.6946. We work with students through Zoom, over the phone, and by email.