To renew your FAFSA®, you can fill out a renewal FAFSA® form which pre-fills some responses based on information submitted in your past applications. You need to renew your FAFSA® each year that you’re in college in order to maintain your eligibility for financial aid. The renewal FAFSA® form becomes available on October 1 of each year; students should check with their college or university to find out what the recommended application deadline is.
Learn more about how the renewal FAFSA® works and what information you’ll need to fill it out and submit it.
When to Complete a Renewal FAFSA®
At the beginning of each calendar year, it’s a good idea to mark your calendar so you’ll remember when to submit your FAFSA®. Your first FAFSA® application can be completed as early as the October before the following school year. For example, students can begin filling out the FAFSA® as early as October 1, 2019 for the 2020–2021 school year. This same rule applies to the renewal FAFSA®; you can submit a renewal FAFSA® beginning on October 1 of the year before the school year for which you’re applying.
The submission date, however, may vary depending on which school you attend. Many colleges set a deadline for students who wish to apply for institutional financial aid. Be sure to check with your college to find out the FAFSA® deadline. If you plan to transfer to a new college or university, ask that school, rather than your current school, about its deadline. Your state may also have its own recommended FAFSA® deadline for receiving any state financial aid.
In general, it is recommended that students complete their FAFSA® applications as soon as possible after the forms become available on October 1. Some types of financial aid are first-come, first-served, so submitting your renewal FAFSA® early increases your chances of securing more financial aid for the upcoming school year.
Pre-Filled Answers on the Renewal FAFSA®
Most students find that submitting a renewal FAFSA® takes much less time than submitting their first FAFSA® application. That’s because some of your personal information is saved, so when you reenter your Federal Student Aid ID, many of the responses will be pre-filled for you, such as your name, your contact information, and other demographic details from your last application.
Although this certainly saves some time that would otherwise be spent typing, be sure to thoroughly check all of the pre-filled responses on your renewal FAFSA® before you submit it. You’ll want to catch and correct any details that may have changed since the previous year. You can go back and edit your FAFSA® if necessary after submitting it, but doing so could delay your financial aid award. If you need to update income information, you can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to transfer income details from your federal income tax returns to the FAFSA®.
When logging in to your account, you’ll first choose which school year you are applying for. Then, make sure to select “FAFSA® Renewal” instead of “Start New FAFSA®” to proceed. This will automatically direct you to the renewal FAFSA®. Note that there is no renewal FAFSA® option if you choose to complete your application on paper; the pre-filled answers will only be available for those who previously submitted an application online and are using the same method to reapply for financial aid.
Your Financial Aid Award
After you complete your renewal FAFSA®, you will be asked to electronically sign and submit it. After that, it’s time to wait until you hear back about your financial aid award. Remember, you are not automatically eligible for student aid; each FAFSA® application only covers one year of college, so resubmitting your renewal FAFSA® in a timely manner is critical.
Be sure to keep an eye out for information about your financial aid for the upcoming school year. You are not guaranteed to receive the same amount of financial aid as the previous school year, so in case you receive less than expected, you’ll want to plan ahead. Remember that many factors can alter your financial aid award amount, including changes in income, the number of dependents your parents have in college, and the tuition costs for your school.
If you’re hoping to receive financial aid again in the upcoming school year, be sure to submit your renewal FAFSA® early. Mark your calendar for October 1 and have any updated information ready to go. With the help of the pre-filled responses, you should be able to complete your renewal FAFSA® application quickly and easily.