It’s the Most Important Time of the Year for Financial Aid

A student in a gray sweatshirt and a blue Pitt face mask works on a laptop in a fieldThe 2021-22 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) became available to all students in October, but nationally, fewer students have completed the application than at this time last year.

Because universities—including Pitt—use the FAFSA to determine students’ eligibility for federal, institutional, state and other types of aid, it’s critical that students at all campuses—whether undergraduate or graduate—submit their forms as soon as possible. Some forms of financial aid, such as Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants, can run out.

How to complete your FAFSA

  1. Visit the FAFSA website
  2. If you are a new user, be sure to apply for an FSA ID for the student and parent, if applicable. The FSA ID is your password/electronic signature.
  3. Be sure to use the University of Pittsburgh’s school code: 008815.
  4. If you have questions, contact the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid by calling 412-624-7488 and selecting option 2 or emailing

“Access to education is critically important, and the University is committed to doing everything we can to make education affordable,” said Randall McCready, executive director of financial aid in the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid. McCready cited the University-funded Pitt Success grants as an example of innovative assistance Pitt offers. The program matches federal Pell Grant funds, dollar for dollar, up to the cost of attendance for qualified students across all five Pitt campuses—but you have to fill out the FAFSA to qualify.

The University formulates many other types of financial aid offers based on the FAFSA, including:

  • Grants: money awarded based on financial need that does not need to be repaid.
  • Scholarships: money awarded based on merit that does not need to be repaid.
  • Work study: money earned through a University-affiliated job.
  • Loans: funds that are awarded but will need to be repaid with interest.

Employees in the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid said they frequently hear from students and parents that the FAFSA is easy to fill out, but they didn’t realize they need to re-submit each year.

“If students need help completing the form, our office always has staff who are able for assistance in groups or one-on-one interactions,” McCready added.

Incoming first-year students at the regional campuses who fill out their FAFSA will receive their award letters before Dec. 25, while those at the Pittsburgh campus will see theirs in late January. Continuing and returning students will receive their offers after spring grades are posted. All students receive this information in their Pitt email inbox.

So, if you haven’t already applied this year, consider using your winter break to complete this important form.