Where do I begin?

The first step to obtaining financial aid is simple, but critical.

One of the most critical steps in the financial aid process is filling out and submitting the federal government's Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). All need-based aid (e.g., grants and low-interest student loans) is awarded based on each student's FAFSA information.

Steps to Apply for Federal Student Aid

See our FAFSA resource page for helpful resources to help with completing the FAFSA successfully, including a webinar recording on Completing the FAFSA.

Step 1:

Obtain an FSA ID (Federal Student Aid ID). An FSA ID allows you to electronically sign your FAFSA; additionally, your FSA ID will be used when accessing various federal aid websites throughout your student career. For FAFSA filing purposes, if the student is determined to be 'Dependent' (as defined by the FAFSA), then one of the parents who is listed on the FAFSA will also need their own unique FSA ID to electronically sign as the parent.

  • For dependent students, the student and a parent both need FSA IDs.
  • You can obtain an FSA ID when you complete the FAFSA.

Step 2:

Collect documents needed to apply, including income tax returns, W-2 forms, and other records of income. A full list of what you need is available at www.fafsa.ed.gov.

  • You can submit your initial FAFSA using estimated tax information.
  • After filing your taxes, you should submit FAFSA update, changing only those items related to your federal tax return.

Step 3:

Apply online between January 1 and February 20 at www.fafsa.ed.gov. You may still file the FAFSA after this time period, but some grants have limited funds. Cedarville encourages students to use the online process; however, if you need to file a paper FAFSA, please visit the FAFSA Filing Options page.

Step 4:

Review your Student Aid Report (SAR) - the results of your FAFSA application. Your SAR contains the information you submitted on your FAFSA, as well as the outcomes of your processed data, including your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). If you filed 'estimated tax year data,' then make sure that once taxes are completed that you return to www.fafsa.ed.gov and make the necessary updates. In some cases you may also discover that you made a data entry error that needs to be corrected; you can also make corrections, but you may be required to also submit documentation which supports the corrections made. Whether making 'updates' or 'corrections' - always make sure that you 'submit these changes' for reprocessing!

Step 5:

If your FAFSA is selected for 'FAFSA Verification,' Cedarville's financial aid office will notify you regarding the various required documents to complete verification.

  • Login to MyFinancialAid (scroll to the bottom) to see the specific list of required verification documents, as well as the current status of each.
  • Be sure to complete and submit all forms as soon as possible.
  • Go to Understanding the Verification Process for more information.