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By Kaitlin Mulhere
Updated: September 29, 2017 2:30 PM ET | Originally published: February 8, 2016
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Helping readers figure out the best way to pay for college is a mission of Money’s higher education coverage. And that means fall and winter are crunch time for us. That’s when high school seniors and their families are working their way through financial aid applications for the first time, especially the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA.

We’ve published a lot of FAFSA-related advice over the years. But we know it can be hard to keep up with each and every story, so we’ve compiled our “FAFSA Greatest Hits.” We’ll update this page with new advice as we add it, so be sure to check back.

If this is your first child to apply to college, or you’re the first in your family to go to college, you may be unsure about where to even begin. Let’s start with the basics: What is FAFSA and who should fill it out?

Even after knowing what the FAFSA is, a lot people still have some basic questions. Here are answers to the 10 most common questions.

Some wealthier families may think it’s not worth the work to fill out the lengthy financial aid form. That’s a mistake. Here are 3 reasons why every one should fill it out, no matter how rich you are.

The Department of Education improved security for filing the FAFSA online. But that means signing up for a Federal Student Aid ID may take more time, and logging in if you’ve forgotten your password can be a hassle. Here are tips to avoid headaches with FSA IDs.

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Starting with the 2017-18 academic year, the aid application timeline will start three months earlier than in the past. You’ll also be able to file using older tax information. These mark the most significant changes to the FAFSA in over a decade. Here’s an explanation of the changes and when you can expect aid packages from colleges.

When you’re ready to start filling out the FAFSA, you’ll want to do it strategically. The four articles below will help you maximize your aid potential.

We’ve hosted question and answer sessions on Twitter for families who were either in the process of filing their FAFSA or were planning to start soon. Those questions may pertain to your family’s financial situation, too. Check out this recap of one of our #FAFSAHelp Twitter chats.

Advertiser Disclosure

The purpose of this disclosure is to explain how we make money without charging you for our content.

Our mission is to help people at any stage of life make smart financial decisions through research, reporting, reviews, recommendations, and tools.

Earning your trust is essential to our success, and we believe transparency is critical to creating that trust. To that end, you should know that many or all of the companies featured here are partners who advertise with us.

Our content is free because our partners pay us a referral fee if you click on links or call any of the phone numbers on our site. If you choose to interact with the content on our site, we will likely receive compensation. If you don't, we will not be compensated. Ultimately the choice is yours.

Opinions are our own and our editors and staff writers are instructed to maintain editorial integrity, but compensation along with in-depth research will determine where, how, and in what order they appear on the page.

To find out more about our editorial process and how we make money, click here.

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