The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known by its acronym, "FAFSA," is defined by its name. It is, in fact, an application with no registration or submission cost provided by the federal government. The FAFSA tests the eligibility of a student seeking higher education for receipt of need-based financial aid dollars from the United States federal government in the form of grants, loans, and work-study eligibility.
Students and their parents complete the FAFSA once each year prior to the upcoming school year. A separate FAFSA is completed and filed for each student, so two or more siblings who may be in college at the same time would each need to complete a separate FAFSA. This annual application qualifies a student for consideration for all the following federal programs: Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, Subsidized Stafford Loan, Unsubsidized Stafford Loan, Perkins Loan, Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS), and the Federal Work-Study program.
The FAFSA can be completed and submitted entirely online. The latest version of the FAFSA is available online beginning January 1 of each year.