JB Pritzker, Governor, State of Illinois

Getting Started

The 2023-24 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) becomes available, and the Central Processing System (CPS) begins processing applications, on October 1, 2022. Students (and parents or spouses, as applicable) report their 2021 income information on the 2023-24 FAFSA.

Information regarding changes to the 2023-24 FAFSA is provided on the Completing a 2023-24 FAFSA page.

Applicants first must decide which of the filing options they will use to submit the 2023-24 FAFSA:

  • online at FAFSA on the Web (FOTW) (available in English or Spanish);
  • via a fillable PDF (available in English and Spanish) which must be printed and mailed for processing; or,
  • with assistance through the college (if applicable).

Although the myStudentAid mobile app was retired on June 30, 2022, all the mobile app's functionality remains available for applicants when they visit StudentAid.gov (which is mobile-responsive) on a mobile device.

Applicants filing electronically should be encouraged to download and complete the FOTW Worksheet (English or Spanish). The worksheet gives applicants time to read and answer the questions, which are listed in the same order as they appear on the FOTW site, before entering information online. After completing the worksheet, an applicant can obtain assistance completing the FAFSA by: clicking on the various links on the FOTW homepage; reading the Introduction page that displays prior to entering FAFSA data; and, reading the Helps and Hints box that displays for each question. In addition, there is a "Needs Help" button at the bottom of each page. If the PDF FAFSA is completed, instructions are included in the document.

Applicants can visit the Federal Student Aid website and click on the Apply for Aid tab to obtain detailed information about the application process and completing the FAFSA. Instructions for obtaining a PDF FAFSA or applying electronically are also provided in this section. Applicants should complete and submit the 2023-24 FAFSA as soon as possible, but no earlier than October 1, 2022. For the quickest results, encourage students to file electronically. At any time prior to completing the FAFSA, students (and – for dependent students – parents) must apply for their FSA ID from the U.S. Department of Education (ED). The FSA ID serves as the electronic signature to be used on the FAFSA. Students and parents may visit the Federal Student Aid website to create an FSA ID.

If an online applicant does not sign the application electronically with an FSA ID, the applicant (and their parents, if applicable) within seven days of submitting the application will need to print, sign and mail in a signature page providing the required signatures. Applications that are missing an electronic signature will be held 14 days before a rejected Student Aid Report (SAR) is sent to the applicant for the appropriate signatures. Not submitting a signature page will increase the time it takes to process the FAFSA application and transmit the application data to the school(s) listed on the FAFSA.

The FAFSA asks for applicants' demographic information (name, date of birth, address, etc.) and their financial situation. The following information and documents for the applicant, spouse (if married), or parents (if a dependent student) may be needed to help answer questions on the FAFSA.

  • Social Security numbers (SSNs) (encourage applicants to ensure it is entered correctly on the FAFSA)
  • Driver's license
  • Alien Registration Receipt Card (if applicable)
  • Federal tax information or tax returns
    • W-2 Forms and other records of money earned
    • Income tax return or estimated figures (1040, 1040A or 1040EZ)
  • Records of other financial information
    • Taxable earnings from need-based employment programs (for example, Federal Work-Study)
    • Taxable student grant, scholarship, and fellowship aid (for example, AmeriCorps awards) included in Adjusted Gross Income
    • Combat pay
    • Earnings from work under a cooperative education program offered by the college
  • Records of untaxed income
    • Social Security, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), welfare, and veterans benefits
    • Child support
    • Military or other untaxed housing
    • Veterans non-education benefits
  • Information on cash, savings and checking balances
    • Stock, bond, and other investment records
    • Business and farm records
    • Current bank statements