The importance FAFSA for seniors and what is needed to apply


Photo by Arianna Purdue

A student is seen applying for FAFSA through the FAFSA website.

FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is a program in which students can apply for and receive access to financial aid such as federal grants and loans for college. This financial aid can help students who qualify based on their income and their parents/guardians’ incomes to attend college by giving them money toward their education. The application for FAFSA opened on Oct. 1.

Applying for FAFSA was made a graduation requirement for seniors last year by the state of Texas. Otherwise, students must fill out an opt-out form stating that they will not be applying for financial aid. Students can get an opt-out form from their counselor.

“FAFSA is how [students] get money,” College adviser Kacie Surratt said. “Grants are free money as long as you’re taking care of business, going to class, getting good grades, that’s money that you don’t have to pay back. Also, if you need student loans, [the FAFSA is] how you would qualify for federal student loans.”

The things students will need to apply for FAFSA is their Social Security number, or Alien Registration number if they aren’t U.S. citizens. They will also need federal income tax returns, W-2s, and other records of money earned. Bank statements and records of investments are requirements as well, and students must create an account with a username and password so they can electronically sign the FAFSA form, according to

“You have to have tax forms and social security numbers,” Suratt said. “It’s a lot of personal information, but it gets sent to the federal government and then from there it goes to the school so they can build financial aid packages for the following school year.”

Overall, if students are interested in attending college after high school, applying for FAFSA is a free, easy way to receive money. The deadline to apply for FAFSA is June 30, 2023, so this leaves students with plenty of time to apply for financial aid that will make going to college easier and more affordable.

“However, the sooner the better, because when funds run out, they’re just out of money,” Suratt said. “So, if you file it sooner, you’re more likely to get money. If you wait until the last minute, it’s not a guarantee.”