Get matched with vetted scholarships and enter our
I’m a high school student I’m a college or graduate student
100% Free. No Spam.
Start typing in the text field above
Load More
Advertiser disclosure

Student-centric advice and objective recommendations

Higher education has never been more confusing or expensive. Our goal is to help you navigate the very big decisions related to higher ed with objective information and expert advice. Each piece of content on the site is original, based on extensive research, and reviewed by multiple editors, including a subject matter expert. This ensures that all of our content is up-to-date, useful, accurate, and thorough.

Our reviews and recommendations are based on extensive research, testing, and feedback. We may receive commission from links on our website, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. Our marketing partners don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted. You can find a complete list of our partners here.

How to Complete the FAFSA for Graduate School

By Gabriel Jimenez-Ekman

Gabriel Jimenez-Ekman is a content editor and writer at Scholarships360. He has managed communications and written content for a diverse array of organizations, including a farmer’s market, a concert venue, a student farm, an environmental NGO, and a PR agency. Gabriel graduated from Kenyon College with a degree in sociology.

Full Bio

Learn about our editorial policies

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.

Full Bio

Learn about our editorial policies

Edited by Maria Geiger

Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

Full Bio

Learn about our editorial policies

Updated: October 2nd, 2023
How to Complete the FAFSA for Graduate School

If you’re wondering how to fill out the FAFSA for graduate school, we’ve got good news for you: the form you’ll fill out is the same as the undergrad form. But even though the process is similar, you’ll be applying for different opportunities. 

Here’s everything you need to know as you complete the FAFSA for graduate school. We’ll refresh you on the submission process and describe what your FAFSA can qualify you for. We’ll also discuss how your financial situation may have changed since undergrad.

Related: How to get into graduate school with a low GPA

How to complete the FAFSA

To start your FAFSA application, you need an FSA ID. Remember, you will use the same FSA ID used for undergraduate, so will only need to create a FSA ID if you never had one. To create an FSA ID,  make sure you have your Social Security number, driver’s license number, and latest tax returns handy.

The process typically takes about an hour. Our step-by-step guide to filling out the FAFSA can help guide you through the nitty-gritty of the process. 

What are the main differences between undergraduate and graduate FAFSA?

The undergraduate FAFSA and graduate FAFSA are composed of the same form, but there are some differences. Typically, students applying to graduate school will be considered financially independent. This means that they won’t have to report their parents’ income and assets, which can change your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

Additionally, graduate students are ineligible for the federal financial aid offered to undergraduate students. Opportunities such as the Pell Grant and federal subsidized loans aren’t available to graduate students. 

However, the FAFSA is still used to determine institutional aid, and it qualifies you for other federal loans. These include the direct unsubsidized loan and the federal grad PLUS loan.

Also read: Navigating different types of student loans

Are all graduate students eligible for the FAFSA?

All graduate students are eligible to fill out the FAFSA as long as they meet the federal requirements. Your degree program must also be eligible to receive federal aid, but the vast majority of traditional graduate schools are. There’s no age limit for filling out the FAFSA.

Federal need-based aid will phase out as the student’s income increases, but it’s worth applying regardless of your income. The process for deciding who is eligible is complex, so you’ll never know if you qualify unless you submit your form. 

What types of financial aid are available through the FAFSA for graduate students?

Graduate students can qualify for two types of federal loans directly through the FAFSA. These are the direct unsubsidized loan and the federal grad PLUS loan. These loans are not as favorable as some federal undergraduate loans, but they typically beat private loans

Related: Applying to federal vs. private loans

Direct unsubsidized loans

If you need to take out loans, direct unsubsidized loans are typically the better of the two. They have lower interest rates than grad PLUS loans, but students are limited in how much they can take out. 

Graduate students can only take out $20,500 per year of direct unsubsidized loans. If you need to borrow more, you’ll have to utilize grad PLUS loans or private loans.

TEACH grant

If you are interested in a career in teaching, the FAFSA can also qualify you for the TEACH Grant. This program can contribute up to $4,000 per year to your education. However, recipients must fulfill a teaching requirement after graduation. 

Institutional aid

Schools also use the FAFSA to determine institutional aid. This means that the schools you apply to will look at your FAFSA to determine how much aid to offer. So, even if you aren’t interested in taking out federal loans, it’s a good idea to fill out the FAFSA to find out if your school may offer you financial aid.

Read more: How much student loan debt is too much?

When will I hear back about my application?

You should receive your FAFSA results from the government within 3-5 days if you submit online. If you submit your application on paper, it could be 1-3 weeks. 

See also: How long does it take for FAFSA to process

Frequently asked questions about completing the FAFSA for graduate school

Is it worth it to fill out the FAFSA for graduate school?

If you want to secure federal loans for graduate school, you must fill out the FAFSA as soon as possible. Aside from lower interest rates, here are other benefits that might apply to you. Income driven repayment plans, certain need-based federal grants, and  grants for those going into special disciplines that are needed.

Do I use the same FAFSA account for grad school?

Graduate students do not need to make a new FAFSA account for graduate school, but they can use the FSA ID from their undergraduate education.

Are all graduate students considered independent?

Graduate students are nearly always considered as independent students who do not report their parents or caretakers financial information. The revised FAFSA requires married graduate students to report their spouse’s income.

3 reasons to join scholarships360

  • Automatic entry to our $10,000 No-Essay Scholarship
  • Personalized matching to thousands of vetted scholarships
  • Quick apply for scholarships exclusive to our platform

By the way...Scholarships360 is 100% free!

Join For Free