What is the FAFSA? The FAFSA, officially known as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is a form you will need to fill out to apply for federal grants, loans, and work-study funds. It’s administered by the U.S. Department of Education, which provides more than $150 billion in student aid each year.

Your eligibility is based on financial need, and that’s what the FAFSA helps determine. You will find out if you qualify for federal grants (which don’t have to be repaid) or federal loans (which do have to be repaid).

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to complete the FAFSA every year?

Yes, you must complete the FAFSA every year you wish to receive federal or state financial aid. The FAFSA information is valid for the fall, spring, and summer semesters of that specific academic year. For example, the 2021-22 FAFSA is valid for fall 2021, spring 2022, and summer 2022. PLNU calculates the amount of your financial need based on the FAFSA.

Can I import my income information directly into my FAFSA?

Yes. Importing your income information from the IRS directly into your FAFSA allows for the most accurate information to be submitted. If selected for verification, this should greatly reduce the amount of time and effort needed to complete requirements for financial aid awarding and processing. If you are just filing your FAFSA, review these instructions for using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. If you are going back to correct your FAFSA, review these instructions for updating your FAFSA with the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.

What does it mean when it says that I have been selected for verification?

The U.S. Department of Education randomly selects students who have completed the FAFSA for a process called verification. Therefore, if you are selected for verification, you were selected by the Department of Education, not PLNU, but you must verify the requested information by turning in paperwork to the Student Financial Services office at PLNU. Read more about the verification process.

What if my family's financial situation has changed since we filed the FAFSA?

Federal law allows PLNU to consider any significant change to a student's financial circumstances. Read about how to appeal for special circumstances.

I or my parents had a rollover from a pension, annuity, or IRA retirement account last year and it is being included as income. How do I correct my FAFSA?

You can go in yourself and update your FAFSA and correct the IRA Distribution or Untaxed Pensions fields to “0." This will create a discrepancy in which PLNU will have to review and request documentation or PLNU can also correct your FAFSA with documentation.

Acceptable documentation for both circumstances above:

  • First two pages of signed tax form 1040 or 1040A. Rollover must be designated in left margin of the form by lines 15a or 16a (1040) or lines 11a or 12a (1040A). Please note that the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) or IRS Tax Return Transcript does not have a designation of rollover.


  • IRS Form 8606, nondeductible IRAs form