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 typically becomes available on October 1st of each year, but will not be available until December 2023 for families completing the 2024-25 FAFSA. To complete the FAFSA, both the student and a parent will need an FSA ID, which can be obtained online at any time and should be secured a few days before you plan to start the FAFSA. 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 Profile®

The CSS Profile is required by roughly 200 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, family 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 2024-25 FAFSA becomes available in December 2023, 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.