Tuition, textbooks and other fees all add up to an overwhelming college bill. As a student, paying for college may seem impossible, but that’s where financial aid comes in. Here are some tips to help you prepare and apply.

Tips to receive the most, and best financial aid.

1. The first step is the FAFSA. Apply Online at www.fafsa.gov

Filing an online FAFSA is the fastest and easiest way to apply for aid. The online FAFSA will guide you through the application. Click on the “Start A New FAFSA” button on the home page, and follow the directions on the screen. This year, you will be able to complete the FAFSA on a new app called myStudentAid.

2. Apply Early

The 2019-20 FAFSA became available on October 1, 2018. Some financial aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, so students should apply as early as possible to be considered for the most, and best aid. Remember to enter UF’s Federal School Code—001535.

3. Apply On Time

UF’s “On-Time” deadline to receive the results of your 2019-20 FAFSA from the federal processor is December 15, 2018. Apply well before December 15 to ensure that the federal processor has time to analyze and send the results of your FAFSA to UF Student Financial Affairs.

4. Apply Every Year

Filing a FAFSA is an annual process - apply every year for every college student in your family.

5. Completing a FAFSA is Fast and Free

Completing the FAFSA should take less than 30 minutes and you should never pay an individual or an organization to help you fill out the FAFSA. Help is available at www.fafsa.gov. The easiest way to complete your FAFSA with accurate tax information is by using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool on the online application. In a few simple steps, most students and parents who filed a 2017 tax return can view and transfer their tax return information directly into their FAFSA.

Every college-bound student should complete the FAFSA because most students are eligible for some form of financial aid including grants, scholarships, loans and work study. Last year, UF students received over $500 million dollars in financial aid.

Remember to complete your FAFSA as soon as possible after October 1 to receive the best financial aid package. You’ll never know what funds you can get, unless you apply.

For more information about financial aid at the University of Florida, visit the UF Student Financial Affairs website at www.sfa.ufl.edu.