FAFSA stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is the government form that determines your financial need to attend college.
You will need to have your income tax information for the past year to fill out the FAFSA. If you are a dependent student, you will also need to submit your parent(s) tax information as well.
Once you submit the FAFSA, the government will calculate as to how much your family can afford to pay towards college costs including tuition, fees, room and board, and books. This amount stays the same no matter the cost of the school you are attending. The FAFSA will determine whether you qualify for federal financial aid like Pell Grants and Stafford Student Loans.
The FAFSA is also used to determine the scholarships, grants, and work study programs that they will offer you as part of your overall financial aid package. Except for merit based grants that do not depend on financial need, the FAFSA report will determine how much money you will get from each college.