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The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

As soon as you've wrapped up your college applications, you should plan to file your FAFSA. FAFSA stands for "Free Application for Federal Student Aid" - but we like to think of it as "Financial Aid's First Step Always." Families sometimes avoid filing a FAFSA because they don't think they'll qualify for federal aid. But the FAFSA does more than determine your eligibility for federal student aid (student loans, grants and federal Work-Study programs) - most schools also use the FAFSA to help decide your eligibility for scholarships and non-federal student aid. And states often use the FAFSA to determine state aid. Please check with for updates to the FAFSA process.

Some colleges and universities require additional forms such as the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE®. Please check with your school to see if additional information is required in addition to the FAFSA.

Find out more:

Step 1 - Complete the FAFSA

You can fill out the FAFSA online at To complete and submit your FAFSA online, you must create a U.S. Department of Education PIN. The PIN will serve as your electronic signature. Fill out the brief PIN application at


You can file the FAFSA after January 1. Try to file as early as possible because award deadlines vary from school to school and state to state. Pay attention to your colleges' financial aid deadlines and other required financial aid forms.

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PNC does not provide accounting, tax or legal advice.