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The Current Top Sixteen Most Frequently Asked Questions.

1. Should I pay for help to fill out my FAFSA?

2. What is the PIN?

3. Why should I get a PIN?

4. How will my PIN be sent to me?

5. I lost my PIN. What should I do?

6. How can I check the status of my FAFSA application?

7. What is the Data Release Number (DRN)

8. Can I add a school code to my FAFSA application?

9. What is the deadline for the FAFSA application?

10. I haven't finished my taxes yet. What should I do?

11. Why do I have to provide my parents' information on the FAFSA?

12. How can I check the status of my student loans?

13. I have questions about my financial aid award. Who should I contact?

14. How can I get in touch with someone who can help me with a financial aid question?

15. Where can I find out more information about Pell Grants?

16. I am an older student. Am I eligible to receive financial assistance?


1. Should I pay for help to fill out my FAFSA?

No, you don't need to. If you apply using FAFSA on the Web at www.FAFSA.ed.gov, you get online instructions for each question, and you can “chat” live online with a customer service representative. Another source of free help is our online guide, Completing the FAFSA.

Whether you apply online or use the paper FAFSA, you can get free help by calling the Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC) at the telephone number(s) listed below or by contacting the financial aid administrator at your college.

Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC):
1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243)
(TTY 1-800-730-8913)

Various Web sites do offer help filing the FAFSA for a fee. These sites are not affiliated with, or endorsed by, the U.S. Department of Education. We urge you not to pay these sites for assistance that we provide for free.

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2. What is the PIN?

The Personal Identification Number (PIN) serves as your identifier to let you access your personal information in various U.S. Department of Education systems. It's like the PIN you get from your bank that permits you to access your account. The PIN also allows you to sign your federal student aid application online and allows you to correct your application data online.

In the interest of keeping your personal information secure, do not share your PIN! You should never give your PIN to anyone. Be sure to keep your PIN in a safe place.

You can apply for a PIN by clicking here.

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3. Why should I get a PIN?

You can use your PIN to access your financial aid data at these U.S. Department of Education Web sites:

  • FAFSA on the Web: Access and complete your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or Renewal FAFSA (if you applied for federal student aid last year). You can also:

           submit corrections to your processed FAFSA,

           use your PIN to electronically sign your submitted FAFSA,

           obtain a copy of your processed FAFSA information, or

           add a school code to your FAFSA application.


  • The National Student Loan Data System Web site: View a history of the federal student financial aid you have received.
  • The Direct Loan Servicing Center: Use your PIN to access your Direct Loan account, if you have this type of loan. Use your PIN to get up-to-date account information, loan balances, and payoff information. Use our online repayment calculator to help you forecast repayment of your loan and contact our customer service staff by e-mail.
  • The Direct Loan Consolidation Web site: Your PIN will enable you to track the processing status of your online Consolidation Loan application throughout the entire consolidation process from application receipt to booking with Direct Loan Servicing.

You also may use your PIN to sign your Federal Direct or Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Master Promissory Note.

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4. How will my PIN be sent to me?

When requesting a PIN, you'll need to provide your name, Social Security Number, date of birth, and mailing address, and submit your request. After that information has been verified with the Social Security Administration's records, a PIN will be generated. If you provide an e-mail address, you'll get an e-mail response in approximately three business days that contains a link to your PIN through the Internet. If you don't provide an e-mail address, you'll get your PIN in 7-10 days through regular mail.

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5. I lost my PIN. What should I do?

If you have lost or forgotten your PIN, you will need to request that it be sent to you again. If you think that someone else may know your PIN, or you believe your PIN may have been compromised when it was lost, we can generate a new PIN for you.

Click here for instructions for replacing a lost PIN or to request a duplicate of your PIN.

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6. How can I check the status of my FAFSA application?

At any point during the processing period, you can use your PIN to check the status of your FAFSA or to check on a correction you made to your FAFSA:

  • Click on the FAFSA icon located on this site's home page under "Apply for Financial Aid."
  • Click on the first item in the right-hand column (under “FAFSA Follow-up”): “Check status of a submitted FAFSA or print Signature Page.”
  • Read the Check Status page, click on “Next” at the bottom of the page, then enter the information required.

Checking the status of your application at any time during the processing period is beneficial, but we recommend you at least check the status at the following times:

  • 3 to 5 days after submission - if you used a PIN to sign your application
  • 2-3 weeks after submission - if you printed, signed, and mailed a signature page.

Helpful Hint: If you printed out the Electronic Filing Instructions when you filed your Web application, write down the dates you checked the status.

If you've already checked the status of your processed application and would like to view your application data, click here. (Note: You must have a U.S. Department of Education PIN.)

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7. What is the Data Release Number (DRN)?

The Data Release Number (DRN) is required to make certain changes associated with the FAFSA you filed. You can make corrections to your mailing address and/or to the schools you listed to receive your FAFSA data. Just call the U.S. Department of Education's Federal Student Aid Information Center (1-800-4-FED-AID [1-800-433-3243]). The DRN also allows you to release your FAFSA data to schools you did not list on your original FAFSA. The DRN is printed in the lower left-hand corner of your Student Aid Report (SAR)

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8. Can I add a school code to my form?

You may either make the correction online with your PIN number, over the phone (1.800.4-FED-AID) if you have your DRN number (see below), or you can fax the request (1.877.264.9664).

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9. What is the deadline for the FAFSA application?

For the 2007-2008 school year, submit your application as early as possible, but no earlier than January 1, 2007. We must have your application no later June 30, 2008. Your college must have your correct, complete information by your last day of enrollment in the 2007-2008 school year.

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10. I haven't finished my taxes yet. What should I do?

If you are facing a deadline and want to get the application in as soon as possible, you may estimate your tax amounts for now. Once you have completed your tax forms, make the corrections to your file either on the Web or by mailing in your paper SAR.

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11. Why do I have to provide my parents' information on the FAFSA?

When you apply for federal student aid, your answers to the questions in Step 3 of the paper FAFSA or in Step 2 of the online FAFSA will determine whether you're considered dependent on your parents or independent. If you're considered dependent, your parents' income and assets as well as your own must be reported on the FAFSA. Students are classified as dependent or independent because federal student aid programs are based on the principle that students (and their parents or spouse, if applicable) are considered the primary source of support for postsecondary education.

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12. How can I check the status of my student loans?

You should contact the holder of your loan. If you don't know who holds your loan, you can use our Web site (www.nslds.ed.gov) to find out about your federal student loans. The site displays information on loan and/or federal grant amounts, outstanding balances, loan statuses, and disbursements.

To use the NSLDS Student Access Web site, you will need to provide your Social Security Number, the first two letters of your last name, your date of birth, and your PIN.

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13. I have questions about my financial aid award. Who should I contact?

Contact the financial aid office at your school. The financial aid administrator at a postsecondary institution combines various forms of aid into a “package” to help meet a student's need. Using available resources to give each student the best possible package of aid is one of the aid administrator's major responsibilities. Because funds are often limited, a financial aid package might fall short of the amount a student is eligible for. Also, the amount of federal student aid in a financial aid package is affected by other sources of aid received (scholarships, state aid, etc).

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14. How can I get in touch with someone who can help me with a financial aid question?

If you wish to speak with a person regarding a financial aid question, please call one of the telephone numbers provided below:

Telephone: 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243)
TTY: 1-800-730-8913
Spanish speakers are available (se habla español)

If you are unable to dial the toll-free number from your area, an alternate number is 1-319-337-5665.

To find out more detail about U.S. Department of Education (ED) programs

Click here for more information about U.S. Department of Education programs.

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15. Where can I find out more information about Pell Grants?

Federal Pell Grants
A Federal Pell Grant, unlike a loan, does not have to be repaid. Pell Grants are generally awarded only to undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor's or a professional degree. (In some cases, however, a student enrolled in a post- baccalaureate teacher certification program might receive a Pell Grant.) Click here to learn more about Pell Grants.

How much can I get?

The maximum Pell Grant award for the 2007-2008 award year (July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2008) is $4,310. The amount you get, however, will depend not only on your financial need, but also on your costs to attend school, your status as a full-time or part-time student, and your plans to attend school for a full academic year or less.

If I am eligible how will I get the Pell Grant Money?

Your school can apply Pell Grant funds to your school costs, pay you directly (usually by check), or combine these methods. The school must tell you in writing how much your award will be and how and when you'll be paid. Schools must disburse funds at least once per term (semester, trimester, or quarter). Schools that do not use semesters, trimesters, or quarters must disburse funds at least twice per academic year.

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16. I am an older student. Am I eligible to receive financial assistance?

Age is not a factor in determining eligibility for the Federal Student Aid programs. Check out federal student aid eligibility criteria by clicking here.

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Last updated/reviewed June 29, 2007

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