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Ultimate Guide to FAFSA: How to Get FAFSA for International Students?

Rohan Deshmukh

FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid is a form that becomes paramount if you are a US student planning to attend college or a parent looking for ways to accumulate your child’s university fees. It provides US students and their families with federal aid for grants, scholarships, student loans, or work-study. 

However, getting a FAFSA scholarship is difficult if you are an international student as one needs to have a Social Security Number (SSN) to apply for FAFSA. Nonetheless, it is still advised for international students to fill out the FAFSA aid form to become eligible for other US university and state scholarships. 

This article will explain FAFSA eligibility criteria, the application process, etc. Most of the FAFSA student aid is distributed on the first-come, first-served rule. Therefore, without any delay, let’s get started!

Table of Contents:

What is a FAFSA? 

FAFSA is a form that all undergraduate and graduate schools require to grant federal student aid. The US Department of Education annually keeps 150 billion USD to provide financial assistance. Students can use this amount to submit their tuition fees, pay the room charges, and purchase books/other vital supplies. This financial student aid mainly includes: 

Financial Aid Name



Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant, Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant


Subsidized Loans, Unsubsidized Loans, Direct Plus Loans, Federal Perkins Loan


Part-time employment, Full-time employment


Merit-based, Financial Need-Based

FAFSA student loans act as an amazing future investment compared to private student loans. They offer lower/fixed interest rates and flexible repayment options. However, the maximum FAFSA scholarship amount depends on the applied course and university. 

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What is the Deadline for Submitting a FAFSA? 

Universities in USA have different deadlines for FAFSA submission. You can ask the college authorities if the last submission date is when the FAFSA form gets processed or when the college receives the data. Connect with them to get the appropriate information. However, the general guidelines include:

Academic Year

First Submission

Submission After Correction

Central Time (CT)


June 30, 2022

September 10, 2022

11:59 PM


June 30, 2023

September 10, 2023

11:59 PM

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Now, the question comes if there is an eligibility criterion or a standard process to apply for the FAFSA application. Of course, let’s walk through it!

What is FAFSA Eligibility Criteria? 

The basic FAFSA eligibility requirements include: 

  • A need for financial aid to study in US (for a majority of the programs).
  • Availability of US citizenship.
  • An appropriate and working Social Security Number (SSN). 
  • Enrollment or acceptance of enrollment as a regular student for a degree or certificate program. 
  • Maintaining gratifying academic performance throughout the course.
  • Eligibility for the direct loan fund program (at least half-time during the course).
  • Signature on the certification statement given in the FAFSA form stating no previous defaults on the federal student loan, no liability of money against a federal student grant, and use of the aid amount for education purposes only.
  • Availability of US eligible non-citizenship. 
  • Lastly, as explained earlier getting FAFSA aid is impossible for international students without an SSN. However, every international student should still fill out the form as it is further used to determine their eligibility for various US state and university scholarships.

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Next, let's check the process on...

How to Apply for FAFSA?

We want the application submission process to be easier for you; therefore, let’s understand how the FAFSA scholarship works. 

1. Begin Planning at an Early Stage

Start saving for college by considering the prepaid tuition and education savings plan. You can connect with school counsellors and the financial aid office to get support from the FAFSA scholarship.

  • Select the college/university you want to enrol in. 
  • US students can get an intensive understanding of various FAFSA grants and scholarships.

2. How to Fill the FAFSA Form?

Renowned colleges like Princeton University, Rice University, Stanford University, and others determine your federal aid eligibility through the FAFSA form. In fact, in the case of international students, many universities use this information to offer their scholarships. You can focus on these steps to apply for financial aid. 

  • You can use the official FAFSA online portal or mobile application. 
  • You can do thorough research about Federal Work-Study Jobs.
  • Have an understanding of the available financial student loans. 
  • After the form submission, you will get a student aid report (SAR). Re-check the information you have shared in this report by logging into the FAFSA online portal and selecting “View SAR” from the “My FAFSA” page. 

Here, international students just need to fill out the FAFSA form, print it, and mail it to the Federal Student Aid Office.

Let’s have a look at the SAR collection method. 


With Email Address

Without Email Address

Types of SAR Received

Email linked to SAR information online

Paper SAR acknowledgement

When SAR arrives (at the latest)

If FAFSA form is signed with the FSA ID(s): 3-5 days

If signature page used: 2 weeks

If FAFSA form is signed with the FSA ID(s): 7-10 days

If signature page used: 2 weeks

3. How to Review the Aid Offer?

The aid offer includes the type of scholarships, grants, and the amount that a school/college/university offers you. Additionally, this report also includes your expected cost for the year. Here, if you get accepted by multiple colleges, we advise you to…

  • Compare the various financial aid offers (as they may vary later based on your final accommodation decision and other factors.)
  • Accept the financial aid in the following order: Free money > Earned Money > Borrowed Money. 
  • Ask for clear statements of the college tuition and fees.
  • After lowering the college costs and checking multiple college scorecards, your final decision should be made. 

4. Get Your Financial Aid, Graduate, and Start Repayment

Kudos! Now is the time to begin your student journey. The financial aid office will offer finance against the amount you owe to the college/school authorities and deposit the rest in your bank for other study expenses. However, it is crucial to maintain the FAFSA GPA requirements (no lower than 2.0) and renew the FAFSA form for continuous financial support.

Once you graduate, prepare to repay loans by managing and exploring repayment plans. Besides, you can also seek temporary relief as federal student loan borrowers are given a six-month grace period before they get capable of making payments. 

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What are the Benefits of a FAFSA?

The advantages that FAFSA offers are endless. And to experience them, one does not need to have certain FAFSA income limits. Let’s have a look at a few.

  • There is no age limit for the FAFSA scholarship. As federal student aid is provided to applicants based on their needs. 
  • FAFSA is not merely for students who only achieve exceptional college grades. However, one is expected to pass the class as per scholarship score guidelines. As some federal student aid programs demand more scores than others. 
  • It eases the expense comparison among different colleges/schools. 
  • This application will help you get a head start on the scholarship search.
  • It also helps study abroad students attain scholarships successfully. 
  • Unlike loans from financial institutions, FAFSA does not demand a credit history. 
  • It does not ask for a co-signer signature from a family member or a friend. 
  • It offers income-driven payment options, i.e. pay as you earn. 
  • It usually takes a default loan period of 3 months to take action against the defaulter. 

Now, you must be acquainted with the FAFSA scholarship. However, if you are an Indian/ international student, don't get disheartened, explore this guide featuring various scholarships for international students to study abroad. If you need end-to-end/ personalised guidance to select a suitable scholarship/ grant or initiate the scholarship application process, connect with our expert counsellors by subscribing to Yocket premium

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Also Read:

Undergraduate Scholarships in USA

Scholarships for Engineering Abroad

Scholarships for PhD in USA

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Frequently Asked Questions on FAFSA

Is parent information required in FAFSA form? 

What should I do if I miss the FAFSA guideline? 

Can I use the IRS data retrieval tool to fill in the necessary tax-related information in the FAFSA form? 

Can I edit the FAFSA application after the final submission? 

Should I fill out FAFSA even if the probability of qualifying is less? 

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