You must fill out the FAFSA to apply for federal student aid. Student aid means federal grants, loans and work-study. You also need a FAFSA to apply for money from your state or college.
It is best to submit your FAFSA as early as you can. Review the FAFSA deadlines.
FAFSA Uses Your Tax Information
You'll need your income records for the tax year prior to the academic year for which you are applying: For instance, if you are filling out the FAFSA to get money for the 2015-2016 school year, you will need your 2014 tax information. If your parents still claim you as a dependent on their taxes, you'll also need their tax information.
You can transfer your federal tax return information to the FAFSA electronically. So, if you have submitted your tax return to the IRS, filling out the FAFSA is easier. However, if you haven't done your taxes by the time you fill out your FAFSA, it's OK to estimate the amounts. You'll just need to send an updated FAFSA once you file your tax return.
Find out more about getting started on your FAFSA.