The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (known as FAFSA), is a form that must be filled out annually by university students (both undergraduate and graduate) and sometimes their parents in the United States to determine their eligibility for federal financial aid (including grants, loans, and work-study programs). In addition, most states and schools use information from the FAFSA to award non-federal aid.

The FAFSA consists of numerous questions regarding the student's finances, as well as those of his or her family; these are entered into a formula that determines the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The amount of the EFC can vary widely, depending on a number of factors; for example, one such factor is whether a student has siblings in college at the time.

Other entities, such as the specific college or state of the student, may also use some of these responses to determine if the student is eligible for school or state aid, in addition to federal aid.

A Student Aid Report (SAR), which includes a summary of the students financial aid formation and the EFC, is forwarded to the schools listed by the student as well as the student. These schools then use the SAR to determine what financial aid package (if any) to award the student.