The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the electronic form used by the U.S. Department of Education to determine what types of Federal Student Aid (FSA) you may qualify for.

The FAFSA is FREE, quick, and simple to complete. The FAFSA is open and should be completed by March 1 for students who wish to be considered for state financial aid from the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA).

You can learn more about aid offered by the state of Maryland by clicking here. Keep in mind, Maryland’s priority deadline for consideration of state financial aid is March 1.


Frequently Asked Questions

What does the FAFSA determine?

The FAFSA determines a student’s eligibility for Federal Student Aid (FSA). The student will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) after submitting the FAFSA and the SAR will contain the student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

The EFC is used by the Financial Aid Office to determine which types of aid (ex: loans or grants) the student qualifies for. The EFC is not the amount of money a student and/or their family will pay nor is it the amount of FSA a student will receive.

Interested in learning about how the EFC is calculated? Click here.

Do I need to fill out a FAFSA?

Students are not required to submit a FAFSA; however, we highly recommend all eligible students submit one. Students must submit the FAFSA to be considered for Federal Student Aid (FSA) including Federal Direct Student Loans. Additionally, many scholarship organizations use FAFSA data to determine eligibility for scholarship awards.

There are many myths about submitting a FAFSA, including:
  • “I (or my parents) make too much money, so I won’t qualify for aid.”
  • “Only students with good grades get financial aid.”
  • “The FAFSA is too hard to fill out.”
  • “I’m too old to qualify for financial aid.”

If you believe any of these statements apply to you, please check out this article about financial aid myths.

Are there any important FAFSA deadlines I should be aware of?


The FAFSA is available sometime in October of each year and it should be submitted by March 1 for consideration of state financial aid.

Students can submit the FAFSA at any point during enrollment, but if the FAFSA is submitted after March 1, the student would not be considered for most types of state financial aid from the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA).

What documents are needed to complete the FAFSA?

You should gather the following before beginning the FAFSA:
  • Your Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID and password to log into and sign the application. 
  • Your Social Security Number or your Alien Registration Number (if you are not a U.S. citizen)
  • Federal income tax returns, W-2s, and other records of money earned. The required taxes needed will depend on which FAFSA the student is completing. For example, the 2024-2025 FAFSA is based on 2022 tax and income data. You may be able to transfer your federal tax return information into your FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.
  • Bank statements and records of investments (if applicable)
  • Records of untaxed income (if applicable) 
You will also need the above information for your parent(s) if you are a dependent student.

How do I create an FSA ID and password?

Students and parents of dependent students are required to create an FSA ID, made up of a username and password, to access certain U.S. Department of Education websites. Your FSA ID is used to confirm your identity when accessing your financial aid information and electronically signing the FAFSA.

Student: An FSA ID is a username and password you need to log in to and sign the FAFSA online. You can create your FSA ID here. It takes about 10 minutes to create an FSA ID. If this will be your first time filling out the FAFSA, you will need to wait 1–3 days before you can use your new FSA ID (there’s an account verification process).

Parent: If your child is required to report parent information on the FAFSA, you need to create your own FSA ID in order to sign your child’s FAFSA online. Create an FSA ID here. The same FSA ID and password can be used by a parent to sign each of their children’s FAFSA since every individual can only create one FSA ID and password (it’s linked to an individual’s Social Security Number).

Note: Parents without a Social Security Number will need to physically sign the signature card at the end of the FAFSA process. The signature card can be printed, signed, and submitted by visiting the Financial Aid Office. The Tax ID Number (TIN) is not the same as a Social Security Number.

IMPORTANT: Some of the most common FAFSA errors occur when the student and parent mix up their FSA IDs. Keep in mind that the same e-mail address cannot be used for both parent and student IDs. If you don’t want your financial aid to be delayed, it’s extremely important that each parent and each student create his/her own FSA ID and that they do not share it with ANYONE, even each other. 

What is a school code?

Every higher education institution has a school code that is used to identify that specific school on the FAFSA. Students may include up to 10 school codes on the FAFSA and adding a school’s school code means that the school will receive a copy of your FAFSA. Students may go back in to remove and add additional schools after the FAFSA is processed.

Even if you have not been accepted by the schools you applied to and/or have not made a final decision of where to attend, it is recommended that you complete the FAFSA and include all schools that you are considering.
The FCC school code is 002071.

What is the Direct Data Exchange?

The Direct Data Exchange (DDX) tool allows students and parents who filed a U.S. tax return with the IRS to access the IRS tax return information needed to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form and to transfer the data directly into their FAFSA form.
Contact Information

Phone Icon301.846.2620 (option 1)

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Office Hours

Monday: 8:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Tuesday-Friday* 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

*January - July and August
Available until 6:00 p.m. on Thursdays