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Applying for Financial Aid: Step 1 in Five Minutes!

Sometimes, when you are about to embark on a big, intimidating project, it helps to break it down into small, manageable steps.  So, as you begin the college financial aid process, a mere 5 minutes will get you started and allow you to complete the requisite first step.

Before you worry about filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you must first think about how you are going to sign it.  This may seem a little out of order, but bear with me, it’ll make sense in just a second.  You will (whenever humanly possible) want to fill out the FAFSA online at   Filling out the FAFSA electronically means there also must be an electronic way to sign the form guaranteeing the authenticity and accuracy of the information you’ve provided.  To “sign” your financial aid application electronically, you must obtain a PIN number from the federal student aid website just mentioned.  Getting this PIN number will be the easiest part of this whole process and will allow you to complete Step 1 in about 5 minutes.

  1. Got to
  2. Click on the link at the top of the page that says  “PIN site”
  3. Click on “Apply Now”
  4. Follow the rest of the directions on the screen

NOTE: Because the student and one parent must sign the FAFSA (in the case of dependent students), BOTH student and one parent should apply for PIN numbers.  You will each need your own PIN number and you will use that PIN number for as long as this student is applying for aid.  So students, for as long as you go to school (undergrad, medical school, law school, etc.), you will use this same PIN number and parents, you will use your PIN number for as long as any child of yours is applying for financial aid.  Parents do NOT get a new PIN number for each child going to college.  Keep the number somewhere safe and memorable.

Article written by Lynell

Lynell's 20 years of experience as a college counselor, consultant to The College Board, an Associate Director of Admissions and Director of Financial Aid have given her a unique insider's perspective to the college application process. She has helped countless students and parents navigate the path to college. She also volunteers her time with several non profit organizations to help low income students go to college.

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