Financial Aid Process

How to Apply

To qualify for most financial aid programs and some state and institutional financial aid, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  The fastest and most accurate way to apply is online at  Students should complete the FAFSA even if they are not sure they will need financial aid; it's free and just about every family is eligible for some form of financial aid.


  • You must complete the FAFSA annually.
  • File online - is the fastest, easiest and most accurate way to file the FAFSA.
  • File early - The FAFSA is available October 1 each year. Students should submit their FAFSA as soon after October 1 as possible to ensure they have met any college or state filing deadlines.
  • Apply for a FSA ID - As of May 10, 2015, the FAFSA Pin is now replaced with the FSA ID. By requesting a FSA ID from, students and parents can sign the FAFSA electronically, and access U.S. Department of Education records online. For more information on the FSA ID, please visit
  • Be accurate - Simple mistakes, like entering a Social Security Number incorrectly, can slow down a student's FAFSA filing and financial aid award process.
  • Keep records - Students should make copies of all materials used to complete the FAFSA and keep them handy in case they are asked to submit these documents to the financial aid office for verification of their FAFSA data.
  • Don't pay for assistance - The FAFSA is a free application and students shouldn't be asked to pay anyone for filing assistance. Iowa students and families can receive free FAFSA assistance from Iowa College Aid and other reputable organizations. Call 877-272-4456 for additional information.

Complete the Iowa Financial Aid Application to determine eligibility and apply for State of Iowa scholarship and grant programs. Both applications (the FAFSA and the Iowa Financial Aid Application) are available starting October 1 and early application ensures students meet all application deadlines and receive the maximum amount of financial aid.

Seek and Apply for Scholarships

Start looking for scholarship opportunities early.  High school counselors are excellent resources for local scholarship information, as are libraries and college and university financial aid administrators.

Financial Aid Award Letter

Upon receiving the FAFSA data for an admitted student, a college will generate a financial aid package for the student and communicate that information to the student through an award letter. The award letter typically includes information regarding the college's cost of attendance, in addition to the types and amounts of financial aid being offered to the student. Most award letters will include federal grants and student loans, state grant and scholarship programs and any institutional scholarship or grant programs being offered to the student.

Tip: Applying for college admission is not the same as applying for financial aid - you need to do both.

Tip: Find more information about the FAFSA, types of aid, Student Aid Report (SAR) and more in Your Course to College, available to order FREE at, within the About Iowa College Aid tab.

Printed from the Iowa College Student Aid Commission website on May 21, 2018 at 9:51am.