Students are now able to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which allows millions of college students to apply for $120 billion worth of federal college aid.
Federal aid is essential for millions of Americans who struggle to finance a college degree. Roughly 70 percent of grads leave college with student debt, and over 44 million Americans hold a total of more than $1.4 trillion in student loan debt.
Every year, FAFSA provides federal grants, loans and work-study funds to more than 13 million college students, making it the largest provider of student financial aidin the country.
"The biggest mistake that people make is not filling out the FAFSA or filling it out late," Karen McCarthy, director of policy analysis for the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators tells CNBC.
"To students who don't think that FAFSA applies to them, wake up and smell the coffee. You should do it," says Charlie Javice, founder and CEO of Frank, an online FAFSA platform. "It takes four minutes. You are probably going to get 10,000 to 30,000 worth of aid in your first year."
Even though the vast majority of Americans qualify for federal college aid, it can be confusing to complete. These three tips can help you make sure you get the most out of your FAFSA.