In your search for financial aid for graduate school, your first stop should be the FAFSA Website, which stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. As the name states, filling out a FAFSA application should always be free, so be wary of any sites charging you to fill out this form.

From online master’s programs to campus-based graduate schools, almost all postsecondary educational institutions rely on FAFSA to figure out how much aid to offer students. To fill out your FAFSA form for free, log on to the USDE website or You can fill it out electronically or print it out, complete it, and mail it to the address provided.

While you are providing the necessary information at, the site will determine your status as a dependent or independent, which will help to determine how much aid you’re eligible for and how much you’ll be able to repay after graduation. Similar to a bank card PIN, you’ll set up a PIN number at to protect your privacy. Also at the site, search for school codes and application deadlines for the graduate school programs you’re interested in.

Remember to stay on top of the deadlines required by the USDE: Financial aid funds for both undergraduate and graduate school are always at risk of running out.

Keep reading: Step 2: Receiving Financial Aid