The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is the key application to unlocking any and all financial aid for higher education. It is a a form completed by prospective and existing undergraduates and their families (and graduate and professional students, too) to determine their eligibility for financial aid from both the Federal government and from the colleges and universities that they hope to attend. The FAFSA is made available on October 1 each year. Most families typically complete the form online at However, families can request and use a paper form. The FAFSA uses 2-year old US tax information is asses a student's financial need.