The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the single most important application a family can file to be considered for financial aid. It is administered by the U. S. Department of Education, required by all colleges and universities, and has no application fee. You can visit fafsa.gov to complete the application, which becomes available on October 1st of each year. To preview the questions you'll see on the FAFSA, you can view the paper version here. To complete the FAFSA, both the student and a parent will need an FSA ID, which can be obtained online at any time. You can learn about creating your FSA ID in our webinar here. If you need assistance with the FAFSA, take advantage of FAFSA Day, a free resource for Massachusetts families. You can also view our webinar, Understanding the FAFSAand read our blog on frequently asked FAFSA questions.

CSS ProfileTM

The CSS Profile is required by almost 250 colleges, universities, and scholarship organizations, and is used to determine the distribution of an organization's own financial aid funds. More information is available in our CSS Profile webinar. To complete the application, visit the CSS Profile website.

College or University Financial Aid Application

Some colleges require their own financial aid application in addition to the FAFSA. To find out if a college on your list has an additional application, contact the school's financial aid office.

Information Required on Financial Aid Applications

Your applications for financial aid will request information about parent income and assets, student income and assets, household size, and number of children attending college. More information about the specific questions on each financial aid application can be found in the webinars mentioned above.


The financial aid deadline is the date by which a student applicant should submit all required applications for financial aid. It can be found on the college's website, usually on the financial aid page. The financial aid deadline at most schools for students applying through the regular college admission process is usually in February or March. The FAFSA becomes available October 1st, however, so families can file their applications starting as early as then. Students applying to college through the Early Decision or Early Action process may have a financial aid deadline in the fall, requiring the submission of the CSS Profile or a school-specific financial aid application. It's crucial that you meet each college's deadline for financial aid in order to maximize your eligibility for grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study. Review the student's college list and research each school's financial aid deadline and application requirements. 

After You Apply

What happens after your applications for financial aid are submitted? Read about the next steps in the process in our After You Apply details.

FAFSA is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Education and PROFILE is a registered trademark of the College Board. MEFA is not affiliated with either organization.