(The FAFSA website is updated regularly and contains everything you need to know about the application process and the types of aid available. And the online application is WAY easier than the paper version.)
Your FAFSA not only makes you eligible for federal financial aid, but also state aid and even scholarships offered by your college. So, you should DEFINITELY apply, even if you think you might not qualify!
When to Submit
Submit the FAFSA any time after January 1 of your senior year in high school, but don’t wait too long. Financial aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, and some deadlines start passing in March.
You'll Need Lots of Documents
You’ll need your Social Security Number, driver's license number, and, unless you're legally independent, your parents' financial info (tax returns, etc.). This means you'll need to ask your parent(s) to file their taxes early in the year!
A few weeks after filling out the FAFSA, you will receive an estimate of what your family is expected to spend on college before factoring in any financial aid. This is your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Your results will also go to the federal government, your state government, and the schools you've applied to.