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    How to Renew Your FAFSA

    By Will Geiger

    Will Geiger is the co-founder of Scholarships360 and has a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. He is a former Senior Assistant Director of Admissions at Kenyon College where he personally reviewed 10,000 admissions applications and essays. Will also managed the Kenyon College merit scholarship program and served on the financial aid appeals committee. He has also worked as an Associate Director of College Counseling at a high school in New Haven, Connecticut. Will earned his master’s in education from the University of Pennsylvania and received his undergraduate degree in history from Wake Forest University.

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    Reviewed by Annie Trout

    Annie has spent the past 18+ years educating students about college admissions opportunities and coaching them through building a financial aid package. She has worked in college access and college admissions for the Tennessee Higher Education Commission/Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation, Middle Tennessee State University, and Austin Peay State University.

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    Updated: February 6th, 2024
    How to Renew Your FAFSA

    If you are a college freshman, sophomore or junior, you are probably familiar with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. The FAFSA is the application that students use to access need-based financial aid. 

    One of the most important things for students to remember is that they must apply for FAFSA renewal each year that they will be attending college. The good news is that renewing your FAFSA is a simpler and easier process than applying for the FAFSA for the first time.

    Jump ahead to:

    Let’s dive into FAFSA renewal so you can get as much need-based financial aid as possible!

    How to renew your FAFSA

    As we mentioned, FAFSA renewal is an easier and less time intensive process than completing the FAFSA as a first year student. In fact, you can easily resubmit your FAFSA in just a few easy steps:

    Sign into your Federal Student Aid Account

    First things first, you will need to sign into your Federal Student Aid or FSA account using your FSA ID.

    renew fafsa

     If you don’t remember your password from last year, you can simply request a new one. 

    Select the FAFSA Renewal option

    Next, if you are eligible for renewing your FAFSA, you will see that as an option after you log into your FSA account.

    Make any necessary changes to the FAFSA

    When you select the FAFSA Renewal option, your FAFSA application will be pre-filled with information. You should review this information and make sure that everything is still correct.

    Since the FAFSA relies on the most up-to-date financial aid information, you will also have to pull in new financial data for you and your parents. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool is the best way to seamlessly pull in financial info for you and your family. The FAFSA uses prior, prior financial data, so you will be using tax information from two years prior. 

    Submit your FAFSA by the deadline

    Now last and certainly not least, you will need to submit by the FAFSA deadline!  The FAFSA opens up on October 1st, so we recommend getting it done as soon as possible!

    Common FAFSA renewal mistakes

    According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, 87% of students received financial aid in the 2019-2020 academic year. This is why the FAFSA is such an important part of paying for college. Below are some of the big mistakes that students make regarding the FAFSA renewal process.

    Not actually applying for financial aid

    Some students assume that they won’t qualify for financial aid. Maybe you didn’t even qualify for financial aid last year. Colleges know that a student’s financial aid may change from year to year, which is why students can apply for financial aid through the FAFSA each year. If your family’s financial situation has changed for the worse or you are concerned about paying for college, you should absolutely complete and submit the FAFSA to your college.

    Applying for financial aid late

    Financial aid is one area of life where you do not want to be late. Since the FAFSA opens up on October 1st, you should absolutely get your FAFSA renewal in as soon as possible. Yes, we know that the deadlines may be later, but you won’t be sorry if you do get it in as soon as you can. 

    Submitting the FAFSA to transfer schools

    If you are even thinking about transferring to a new college or university, you will want to list those new colleges on your FAFSA (even if you haven’t formally applied yet). This is just a smart way to play it safe and ensure that the colleges have the proper financial data from you. This will ensure that you won’t miss out on need-based financial aid opportunities if you do decide to transfer.

    Remember, if you are trying to send your FAFSA to more than ten institutions, you will need to follow these special instructions.

    Renewing merit-based scholarships

    If you are receiving any merit-based scholarships you may be able to renew these awards too! This goes for both college-specific scholarships, as well as private scholarships from other organizations. Every scholarship will have its own scholarship renewal process, so you should definitely review your scholarship award letter (generally this will include information about renewing your scholarship). 

    Generally, there are a few big things that students must do in order to renew their scholarship:

    • Maintain a specific GPA (many colleges and organizations will require a 2.0 or 3.0 GPA)
    • Maintain full time student status (this usually requires a certain amount of credit hours)

    However, you should always check-in with the organization that awarded your scholarship for more details!

    Next Steps

    Next Steps

    • If you received need-based financial aid, you will need to submit a FAFSA renewal by the FAFSA deadline
    • The FAFSA opens up on October 1st, so smart students will get their FAFSA submitted as soon as possible
    • Even if you didn’t qualify for need-based financial aid in the previous academic year, you may qualify for it this year! It can be worthwhile to submit your FAFSA for consideration
    • The FAFSA may also be used for institutional or state scholarships that are not need-based. If you receive one of these scholarships you will need to submit the FAFSA each year
    • Finally, if you are receiving any renewable merit-based scholarships, you will want to make sure that you are meeting the required criteria to renew the scholarships

    Frequently asked questions about renewing the FAFSA

    Do I have to renew my FAFSA every year?

    If you receive scholarships that don’t depend on your income like athletic or merit scholarships, then you don’t have to submit your FAFSA. However, it’s a good idea to submit the FAFSA just in case your circumstances change.

    Why should the FAFSA be filled out each year?

    The FAFSA should be filled out each year because your financial circumstances could change as time goes on. As a result, you could receive more or less aid throughout your college years.

    What if I forget to renew my FAFSA?

    Unfortunately, forgetting to renew your FAFSA can result in the loss of your need-based aid for the upcoming academic year. You can speak with your school’s financial advisors or call your state agency to see if there’s anything they can do to help.

    When do I have to submit my FAFSA?

    Despite opening on October 1st, the FAFSA must be completed and submitted by June 30th. Some states have other deadlines that must be considered, so be sure to check the FAFSA website.

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