FAFSA and Financial Aid

FAFSA (“Free Application for Federal Student Aid”)

Before each year of college, students and their families will fill out the FAFSA to apply for federal grants, work-study, and loans.  After you submit your FAFSA form, you will receive your “FAFSA Submission Summary,” which summarizes the information that you provided on your FAFSA form. The colleges that you list on your FAFSA will also receive this summary and will use it to determine your federal aid eligibility. Many states and colleges also use FAFSA data to award their own aid.

FAFSA Opening Date

  • The FAFSA used to open on October 1, but this year's FAFSA will become available in December for the school year 2024-25.
  • We will keep families informed about the exact date the FAFSA will be available, and we encourage you to fill it out as soon as possible when it becomes available.
  • The FAFSA must be submitted for each year of college.

What You Will Need to Start Your FAFSA for 2024-25

  • FSA ID for student and one parent.
    Starting with the 2024-2025 FAFSA, the parent who provided the most financial support must complete the application. Previously, the parent a student lived with the most in the last calendar year was the parent who completed the FAFSA.

After You Have Completed Your FAFSA

Information about how to download your FAFSA Submission Summary for the DCTAG application and other needs will be provided here as soon as it is known.

Other Resources

Federal Student Aid Estimator

Before families complete the FAFSA form, the Federal Student Aid Estimator can help them understand their options to pay for college or career school by providing an early estimate of their Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and eligibility for federal student aid.

CSS Profile (apply through College Board)

About 400 colleges require that students fill out the CSS Profile in addition to the FAFSA. The CSS Profile application opens on October 1 each year. This application is for nonfederal student financial aid and provide access to funding that is not available through the FAFSA. Families apply through the student's College Board account. There is a fee; students who are eligible for Free and Reduced Meals can apply for a fee waiver.
See this link for an overview of the CSS Profile:

The DCPSGoesToCollege website, https://dcpsgoestocollege.org, offers many financial aid resources:

  • information on DC-specific and other financial aid programs
  • a College Cost Calculator
  • a Financial Aid Award Letter Calculator that helps you compare up to four financial aid award letters from your colleges.


Jeff Selingo, author of "Who Gets in and Why," offers advice and hard data on how colleges grant financial aid.

Which Colleges Are Really Buyers and Which Are Sellers


uAspire’s College Cost Calculator is a free online tool that helps you decipher and compare your financial aid offers.


This website offers personalized net-cost estimates for financial aid for more than 70 college partners.

College Aid Pro

This website has information about FAFSA/CSS, lists of scholarships, and a "report card" on how transparent colleges and universities are with the merit they provide.

Virtual Workshop: Understanding Financial Aid Award Letters

Monday, April 4, 2022, 5:30 pm-6:30 pm

As you are receiving your college decisions, it can be difficult to compare the financial aid packages that different schools are offering you. This virtual workshop offered tips on how to compare letters and things to pay close attention to. Our presenters:

  • Jessica Mardo, from the “DCPS Persists” program. Ms. Mardo is also knowledgeable about the DC-specific programs DCTAG, Mayor’s Scholars, and DC Futures.
  • Joshua Lowe, currently a George Washington University admissions officer. He has experience at both private and public institutions.

You can view the slide presentation here.