The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the form that colleges use to determine your financial aid. When filling out the application, you’ll have the opportunity to list schools you’re interested in attending; doing so is the only way to ensure that those schools receive your financial information and are able to determine what grants, scholarships and loans you qualify for.

Why do I need to list schools on my FAFSA?

When you list colleges on your FAFSA form, your Student Aid Report (SAR) will be sent directly to those institutions. This report details the financial information from your FAFSA and is how colleges create your financial aid package.

Students should list every school that they apply to on the FAFSA. If a school does not receive your SAR, it cannot determine whether you are eligible for federal, state or institutional aid.

How to add colleges to your FAFSA

One of the final questions of the FAFSA asks you which colleges you want to receive your FAFSA information. You’ll need to provide the following information for each school:

  • Federal school code.
  • Name.
  • Address and city.
  • State.
  • Whether you plan to live on campus, with a parent or off campus.

With an online application, you can include up to 10 colleges and use a search function to fill in the colleges’ details automatically. If you’re submitting a paper FAFSA, you’ll be limited to four schools, though you can add more after the fact. You’ll also need to manually search for your schools’ federal school codes and other details.

How many colleges can you can list on the FAFSA?

You can list up to 10 of your desired schools on the FAFSA. You can list schools even if you haven’t applied yet; the form should include every school you’re considering.

If you want to send your information to more than 10 schools, the process is fairly simple once you’ve received your Student Aid Report (SAR):

  • Online: Log in to your FAFSA portal and add schools by clicking on the “Add/Update Schools” option.
  • By phone: Call the Federal Student Aid Information Center and ask it to add the schools for you.
  • By mail: Write the new colleges on your paper SAR and mail it to Federal Student Aid.

Keep in mind that if you’ve reached the limit for schools listed, any additional schools will replace your originally listed schools. However, the original schools that you added will still have access to your information from when you first filled out your FAFSA.

Does the order matter when listing schools on the FAFSA?

Generally speaking, the order you list schools on the FAFSA does not matter; schools will not have access to your ranked list, so they cannot make decisions based on where you’ve placed schools. However, some states do require that you list an in-state school in one of the top slots in order to be considered for state aid. You can find details on these states on the Federal Student Aid website.

What if my school isn’t available on the FAFSA?

If you can’t find your school’s federal code in the Federal Student Aid database, it’s possible that the institution doesn’t participate in federal financial aid. It may also be listed under an alternative name.

Call the school’s financial aid office to check if it participates in federal aid; if it does, ask for its federal school code to make sure that you’re sending your information to the correct school.