The process of applying for federal financial aid is simple, if you qualify. Generally, all U.S. citizens are eligible except in specific circumstances. For instance, male citizens must register with the Selective Service System (a list of all males who could be called to defend the United States in a national emergency). Not only is this required for those hoping to be eligible for financial aid, it is required by law. The financial aid application process itself only takes about 30 minutes, can be completed entirely online, and requires financial statements and tax documents. For students and/or their families whose income is below a certain level, tax credits may provide monetary relief.

In order to be eligible for federal financial aid, all male students must register with the Selective Service System between their 18th and 26th birthdays. The Selective Service is a list of all men eligible to participate in an emergency draft during times of crisis. All males must register for the draft within 30 days of turning 18 despite immigration status, having disabilities, or being religiously or politically opposed to war. There are legal consequences for not registering.

Applying for federal financial aid is estimated to be a 30-minute process and can be done entirely online. To complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, you will need to gather financial documents, create an account, input information about your family’s monetary situation, and input a list of schools to which you’d like the results sent. The FAFSA becomes available each year on October 1.

Though not directly applicable to your tuition bill, you (or your parents if you are a dependent) may be eligible for tax credits each year that you are in school. If your family income is below a certain level, the American Opportunity Credit or the Lifetime Learning Credit can lower the amount of money owed in taxes and maybe even result in a tax refund in April.