The FAFSA: File Early to Get Aid for College

Even if you don’t think you’ll qualify, apply for federal student aid via the FAFSA. You may be surprised.

College students gather around a fellow student who's holding a piggy bank.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) became available on October 1 for the 2023–24 academic year. Why should you care? If you or your child is attending college, the FAFSA determines eligibility for federal student aid, including grants and work-study.

The FAFSA is available at It typically takes from 30 to 60 minutes to complete, yet many students (or their parents) wait to file it or never file it at all. 

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Emma Patch
Staff Writer, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Emma Patch joined Kiplinger in 2020. She previously interned for Kiplinger's Retirement Report and before that, for a boutique investment firm in New York City. She served as editor-at-large and features editor for Middlebury College's student newspaper, The Campus. She specializes in travel, student debt and a number of other personal finance topics. Born in London, Emma grew up in Connecticut and now lives in Washington, D.C.