You’ve been accepted to Southeast Missouri State University (Welcome, fellow Redhawk!) … but now what? We know the cost of college might seem daunting, so we want to ease your mind. The first and most essential step to paying for college is to file your FAFSA.

What is the FAFSA?
Perhaps you’ve seen reminders posted throughout your high school or campus reminding you to file your FAFSA, but what is it, exactly? The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, reviews tax information to determine your eligibility for government-granted financial aid.

Based on the information from your taxes, FAFSA will notify both you and SEMO of exactly how much money you’ll be granted, as well as what you may be expected to pay out of pocket (also known as your EFC, or Estimated Family Contribution).

Okay, but how do I “file” it? Do I have to go to an office?
Nope! Filing the FAFSA can be done easily from your own computer—no office visits needed. You can begin filing your FAFSA online. Both you and your parent/guardian will be required to create an FSA ID, which is simply a login used to sign electronic documents and access your accounts.

From here, you will be prompted to begin inputting your tax information. What used to be a time-consuming task has now been made simple by FAFSA’s IRS Data Retrieval Tool, which links your filed tax information quickly to speed up the filing process.

The tax information used for the year you file is from two years prior; so, if you file the FAFSA for 2022-2023, information from the 2020 tax year will be used.

How soon do I file it? Have I already missed the deadline?
The FAFSA for the upcoming academic year can be filed after October 1. The sooner you file it on/after that date, the better! You’ll want to give yourself as much time as possible to figure out all of the details when it comes to paying for college. Making sure this is taken care of ahead of time can reduce your stress as well, giving you one less thing to worry about. In order to meet the February 1 financial aid priority deadline, we recommend filing the FAFSA by January 15 to allow time for processing.

I think I can do this. Is there anything else I should know?
You’ve got this! If you have any other questions or concerns about filing your FAFSA, contact Student Financial Services at (573) 651-2253 or Additional resources can be found at Student Financial Services or FAFSA’s website. Remember to file early to allow plenty of time for processing, keep track of deadlines, and check your university email early and often to make sure you don’t miss anything. Good luck! We can’t wait to see what you’ll do here.