Do You Have to Fill Out the FAFSA Every Year?

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Stanley Tate

#1 Student Loan Lawyer

Updated on July 14, 2022

You have to submit the FAFSA every year that you attend college if you want to continue to receive grants, work-study, and federal student loans.

College students must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid every year that they attend school because the form only applies to a single academic year. Your eligibility doesn’t carry over from one year to the next. To maximize the amount of financial aid you receive to cover college costs, you need to submit a FAFSA form every year by the deadline.

Keep reading to learn why you should apply for the FAFSA every year.

Quick Takeaways:

  • You must renew your FAFSA every year to keep receiving college financial aid.

  • You can renew your FAFSA starting on October 1.

  • You can submit a renewal application or start a new FAFSA.

Why do you have to fill out the FAFSA every year?

To remain eligible for grants, scholarships, work-study, and student loans, you need to reapply for FAFSA every year that you’re enrolled in school. Your application covers the full academic year — you don’t need to reapply every semester.

Even if you don’t think you will need financial aid to pay for school next year, it’s important to renew your application as soon as possible and not wait until the FAFSA deadline. For the 2022–23 academic year, the deadline is June 30. Some types of aid are first-come, first-served.

Even if you’re crunched for time, there’s no need to dread the FAFSA.  The renewal process is much quicker than the first time you complete the application. You don’t have to start from scratch: the FAFSA form is auto-populated with information from the previous year. You can also save time by pulling your financial information into the form using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. According to the IRS, the tool doesn’t just save you time inputting your financials, it also reduces the chance that your school’s financial aid office will select your form for verification.

Why you should complete the FAFSA renewal application each year

The US Department of Education recalculates your financial aid eligibility each school year, which could lead to more or less aid being awarded in response to changes in your family’s financial situation. For example, if your family’s income decreases, your financial need may change, making you eligible for grants and subsidized federal student loans.

Another reason to file the FAFSA is to qualify for scholarships from your college. Many colleges require students to submit a FAFSA application as part of the scholarship application package. This requirement seeks to maximize the utility of the scholarship funds by giving them to the neediest applicant.

Finally, submitting a new FAFSA form ensures that you’re eligible to borrow new federal student loans. Federal student loans can help you pay for the cost of attendance that’s not covered by grants, scholarships, or work-study.

It’s best to exhaust federal student loans first if you’re an undergraduate student. Federal loans typically have lower fixed interest rates and better repayment terms than private student loans. You can also get them without a cosigner.

Do I renew my FAFSA or start a new one?

It’s your choice. You can start a new FAFSA form or submit a renewal application if you submitted a FAFSA last year. The benefit of using the FAFSA renewal is that it cuts the application time nearly in half, according to the Education Department.

Follow these steps to renew your FAFSA:

  1. Step 1: Log in with your FSA ID username and password at fafsa.gov. Learn what to do if you forgot your FSA ID username or password.

  2. Step 2: Update any pre-filled information that has changed. The application will autofill your name, email, birthdate, and Social Security number. You’ll still need to provide new income and tax information and update any other information that’s changed.

  3. Step 3: Sign and submit the FAFSA renewal. After your renewal is processed, you’ll receive a Student Aid Report, or SAR, that summarizes the information disclosed in the form and includes an expected family contribution. The EFC determines your estimated eligibility for federal Pell Grants and student loans.

You have until June 30 of the school year you plan to attend to submit a FAFSA form. You should also check with your college as they may have an earlier deadline.

UP NEXT: Do You Have to Pay Back Federal Pell Grants?

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