FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This form that must be submitted if you want to be eligible for the Federal student aid programs such as Direct and Direct Plus loans as well as Pell Grants. Most colleges only require this financial aid form, so it is used to determine eligibility for their institutional (endowment) aid as well. This form goes live each year on October 1st. The first submission for rising freshman in college will be done on or after October 1 of their senior year in high school.