Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

Federal financial aid can help nursing students pay for education expenses at eligible colleges, universities, and career schools. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) gives you access to the largest source of nursing financial aid available. Types of financial aid include loans, grants, and work-study funds.

The process for completing the FAFSA for nursing students remains easy and free. Many states and colleges use the FAFSA information to determine eligibility for school and state aid, while private financial aid lenders require the FAFSA information to distribute financial aid for nursing students.

Federal Student Aid (FSA), an office of the U.S. Department of Education, oversees the FAFSA program. Each year, the Federal Student Aid office provides more than $120 billion in financial aid to more than 13 million students. Authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, Federal Student Aid employees manage these financial aid programs and distribute funds to nursing degree candidates attending colleges or career schools. Nursing students can use federal student aid for various educational expenses, including tuition and fees, books and supplies, and room and board. You can also apply financial aid to other expenses, such as transportation and childcare.

How to Get Financial Aid in Nursing

Through the FAFSA, many forms of general and nursing-specific financial aid remain available for degree candidates. The federal government distributes many kinds of student loans, including subsidized, unsubsidized, and Perkins Loans. A number of loan forgiveness plans also provide aid to nursing students.

Using the FAFSA, learners apply for various types of financial aid for nursing students, including scholarships, grants, and work-study programs. Nursing students may apply for scholarships and grants from state and local governments and private and public organizations.

FAFSA Funding

The federal government awards many different types of financial aid. Loans or borrowed money requires students to repay the nursing financial aid with interest. Unlike a loan, you typically do not need to repay a grant unless you withdraw from school, your enrollment status changes, or you receive outside scholarships or grants that reduce grant eligibility.

Work-study programs provide nursing students with part-time jobs to earn money for expenses. The jobs usually involve either community service or employment related to the student’s course of study, such as nursing. Applicants receive payment from work-study jobs directly unless the degree candidates request a school use the funds to pay for education-related charges, such as tuition and fees.

To maintain eligibility for federal student aid, you must fill out the FAFSA form every year while attending school. To avoid losing FAFSA funding, nursing students must meet basic eligibility criteria, including demonstrating financial need, enrollment status, and maintaining satisfactory academic progress. To determine how much financial aid an applicant receives, Financial Student Aid assigns an expected family contribution (EFC). Using a formula established by law, the EFC calculation includes a family's taxed and untaxed income, family size, and number of family members attending college.

FAFSA Eligibility Requirements

Many factors affect a student’s eligibility to receive federal aid. However, Financial Student Aid may make exceptions on a case-by-case basis. To receive financial aid, an applicant must hold at least a high school diploma or GED, or complete a high school education in a homeschool setting. Eligible applicants must also show enrollment in an eligible program.

You must possess a valid Social Security number. Financial aid remains available for U.S. citizens and non-citizens who hold a green card or a specific immigrant status. Male applicants, ages 18-25, must register with the Selective Service. After receiving financial aid, a degree candidate must maintain a satisfactory academic record.

How to Complete the FAFSA

When Should You Submit the FAFSA?

Submitting the FAFSA early holds many benefits. Often, schools award financial aid on a first-come, first-serve basis. You can file your FAFSA as early as October 1 every year, while several states list a deadline of “as soon as possible after October 1.”

Some parents and students defer filing the FAFSA due to changing income. Your family may want to pay off debts or wait for the stock market to improve. Parents may also want to benefit from after-tax dollars by investing in retirement savings. However, unless involving large funds, shifting parental assets likely does not affect the EFC.

What Information Do You Need to Fill Out the FAFSA?

To complete the FAFSA, gather certain documents ahead of time. The FAFSA requires both a Social Security and driver’s license number. If you do not hold U.S. citizenship, you need an alien registration number. Dependent students must include their parents’ Social Security numbers.

Applicants need to enter information from federal income tax returns and information about any savings, cash, and investments. You may also need records of untaxed income, such as child support and veterans’ noneducation benefits. If you qualify as a dependent student, submit the same financial information for your parents.

Borrowers, students, and parents must create an FSA ID that includes a username and password to access certain U.S. Department of Education websites. The FSA ID confirms identity and electronically signs federal student aid documents. Applicants must list at least one school when completing the FAFSA form. Your listed schools use your information to determine the amount of nursing financial aid available to you.

Filling Out Your FAFSA

The federal government provides three different ways to fill out the FAFSA: online, PDF, or by requesting a paper form. Applicants may log into the FAFSA website to apply online. You may also complete a PDF FAFSA. While the PDF option gives students the chance to enter data on the screen before printing, the information may not save on the computer while completing the form. The online option allows applicants to save data when filling out the form and submit the form electronically when complete. You may request a paper form to mail, but this option takes longer to receive and process.

The FAFSA form asks information about the student, including the degree candidate’s name, address, and date of birth. The form requests information about citizenship and immigration status, prior drug convictions, and your parents’ education level. The FAFSA form requests data about the student’s financial information, including student earnings, income tax return details, and spousal earnings, if applicable.

You may also need to provide answers about household size and parent information, including facts about parents’ income, marital status, and any investments. Only certain applicants, such as candidates who qualify as dependent students, need to provide parental information. To submit the FAFSA, you must electronically sign to certify the statements provided in the form.

Tips for Filling Out Your FAFSA

Submitting the FAFSA

How Do You Submit Your FAFSA?

Parents and students can sign the FAFSA electronically using FSA IDs. Applicants may print, sign, and mail a signature page, but this method may delay the process for several weeks. The FAFSA website displays a confirmation page once a student and parent sign the form.

Student Aid Report

In both paper and electronic form, the Student Aid Report (SAR) provides basic information about financial aid eligibility. The SAR displays the EFC. With an incomplete FAFSA, the SAR tells the student what needs to change. The SAR also shows a four-digit data release number which allows learners to give permission to schools to change FAFSA information.

The student and schools listed on the FAFSA receive access to the SAR. Applicants should review the SAR carefully and update the FAFSA to correct errors. You may find yourself chosen randomly for verification, which means you may need to submit additional documents to prove FAFSA information.

How and When Do You Get Your FAFSA Funding?

Your school’s financial aid office informs you about how and when you will receive FAFSA funding. Typically, a school pays aid to a student once per term. For loans and grants, the college or career school applies the funds first to tuition and fees, and then pays the remainder to the applicant through check, cash, or another method. If a student does not need funding, learners may cancel loans within 120 days of disbursement. Schools often pay degree candidates directly for work-study programs.


What's the Deadline for Filing the FAFSA?

For the 2018-2019 FAFSA, a student must submit the federal online application by midnight (Central Time) on June 30, 2019. Deadlines differ for colleges and states awarding financial aid.

Do You Need Good Grades to Receive FAFSA Funding?

While the FAFSA recipient must maintain satisfactory academic progress, most federal student aid programs do not consider a student’s grades when evaluating FAFSA funding.

Is There an Age Limit for FAFSA Aid Recipients?

While an age limit does not exist for FAFSA requirements, candidates must hold a high school diploma or a recognized equivalent, such as a GED, to receive financial aid.

Can Your Household Income Automatically Disqualify You from FAFSA Funding?

A large household income does not disqualify you immediately from FAFSA funding. Eligibility for financial aid includes many factors, such as family size and the student’s year in school.

Do Your Parents Have to Be U.S. Citizens for You to Be Eligible for FAFSA Aid?

Your parents’ citizenship also does not affect eligibility for financial aid, as the FAFSA form does not inquire about your parents’ citizenship or immigration status.

How Long Does It Take to Fill Out the FAFSA?

The average FAFSA form takes one hour to complete, according to Federal Student Aid.

Can You File Your FAFSA Before You've Applied to Any Schools?

Students can fill out the FAFSA form before applying to schools. You must list at least one educational institution, but you can add or delete schools later.

Where Can You Find More Information About the FAFSA?

To find out more information about the FAFSA, visit or or talk with a school’s financial aid officer.