How to Apply for Financial Aid: First-Year Applicants for 2021-22

Getting Started

Whether you are applying for early action or regular decision, this page provides all the information you need to complete your application for need-based financial aid through Student Financial Services (SFS). Please read the information carefully to be sure you follow all the required steps to apply for the type of financial aid you are interested in.  Start with a review of the flow chart below.  Do not wait until after you receive your admission decision to apply for financial aid.  By then, you may have missed the deadline.

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Are you looking for information only on merit aid?  If so, visit our page on scholarships and grants to get started, as the rest of the information on this page is exclusively about need-based financial aid, the only type of aid available through SFS.

Downloadable version of the below flow chart with clickable links

A flow chart is displayed containing the information below on how to apply for financial aid at UVA.

What Applications Do I Need to Fill Out?

If you are only interested in federal financial aid, complete and submit the 2021-22 FAFSA, also available in Spanish (Federal School Code: 003745).  That's it!  We'll offer your federal aid (Pell Grant, Work Study, Direct Loans, PLUS Loans) based on your eligibility. For help completing the FAFSA, consider reviewing this tutorial video created by the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The U.S. Department of Education has prepared a helpful checklist of documents and information to have available when you’re completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  In particular, to speed up data entry, ensure accuracy of tax-related information on the FAFSA, and to greatly reduce the chances of your application being selected for federal verification:

  • Use the FAFSA Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) if you are eligible to do so
  • Do not make any changes to the data you transfer from the IRS website

If you want to be considered for all forms of need-based financial aid, including state and University grants and scholarships, complete and submit both the 2021-22 FAFSA and the 2021-22 CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE ("Profile"). Our Profile school code is 5820.  For help in completing the Profile, see our Profile webpage.


When Does SFS Need My Information?

Student Type Priority Application Date* Final Application Deadline Date**
First Year Undergraduate Early Decision Fall 2021 November 15, 2020 March 1, 2021
Early Action Fall 2021 December 1, 2020 March 1, 2021
Regular Decision Fall 2021 February 1, 2021 March 1, 2021

* Completing and submitting all required applications and additionally-requested documents by the priority date increases the likelihood that you'll receive your preliminary financial aid offer much sooner than if you wait until March 1st.

** If you are an eligible applicant for financial aid and submit your FAFSA and Profile by March 1, 2021, we will meet all of your demonstrated need, even if your other application materials arrive after the deadline.  If you submit your FAFSA and/or Profile after March 1, 2021, you may still receive some grants.  In recent years, we have been able to give grants to late applicants, but we can't always promise to be able to do so.


What Else Might SFS Need From Me?

We might need additional documents from some students, and we list some examples below.  A request might come from SFS or from IDOC at the College Board.  Either way, you'll get clear instructions on what to submit and how and where to send it. Please do not send any of the documents below unless you are specifically asked to do so.

Some students are chosen for a process called verification.  It's how the U.S. Department of Education makes sure that the information you provided on the FAFSA is correct.  And SFS sometimes asks for documents to verify information from the Profile.  If you are chosen for verification, we'll let you know what you need to provide.  It’s good to have the documents below available ahead of time, preferably in an electronic format, so you’ll be ready to submit copies quickly if you need to.  The sooner you get your documents in, the sooner you'll have your financial aid offer.  The following are some of the items that may be requested of you and added to your Student Information System (SIS) To Do List:

  • Student Federal Tax Return and all Schedules for 2019
  • Student W2 and/or 1099 and/or K-1 form(s) for 2019
  • Student Tax Return Transcript for 2019 – you can order it now, here, and have it sent to your home, so you’ll be ready to send copies later, if requested.  Paper copies may take longer than 2 weeks to arrive once you order them.  If you did not file a tax return in 2019, request a Verification of Non-filing Letter.
  • Student ID documents such as passport, birth certificate, Social Security card, Permanent Resident Card, etc.
  • Parent Federal Tax Return and all Schedules for 2019
  • Parent W2 and/or 1099 and/or K-1 form(s) for 2019
  • Parent Tax Return Transcript for 2019 – you can order it now, here, and have it sent to your home, so you’ll be ready to send copies later, if requested. Paper copies may take longer than 2 weeks to arrive once you order them. If your parent did not file a tax return in 2019, request a Verification of Non-filing Letter.


For Dependent Students Whose Parents Are Divorced or Separated

If both of your biological or adoptive parents are living, and they are divorced, separated, or were never married to each other, and they do not live together, for the purposes of applying for financial aid one will be considered the custodial and the other will be considered the non-custodial parent.  The custodial parent is:

  • The parent with whom you lived more than 50% of the 12-month period prior to filing the FAFSA

OR, if you lived equally with both parents:

  • The parent who provided more than 50% of your support during the 12-month period prior to filing the FAFSA

Only the custodial parent needs to be included in the FAFSA information.  The Profile is requested of both the custodial and non-custodial parents, if they are living.  Please visit the College Board’s web site for more information about the Profile application process as it relates to divorced or separated parents.

If the non-custodial parent will not be able to submit the Profile, please either complete the waiver request form found on the College Board site or contact our office to discuss your situation.  Submit the form directly to Student Financial Services, and within approximately two weeks we'll send you an e-mail about whether or not a waiver can be granted.  If you submit a waiver request form, please also be sure to submit additional documentation why the non-custodial parent is unable to submit the Profile.

Please be aware that it is UVA’s philosophy that, to the extent they are able, both parents have primary responsibility to pay for the education of their dependent children.  Thus, a parent’s unwillingness (as opposed to inability) to contribute is not necessarily grounds for a waiver of the Profile application. 


Oops!  Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Application mistakes can sometimes cause substantial delays in processing your financial aid offer.  Take your time filling out applications, work carefully, and review this comprehensive list of errors to avoid.  Bear in mind that most errors mentioned for the FAFSA apply also to the CSS Profile and vice versa.

For both the FAFSA and CSS Profile, be especially sure:

  • To double check your Social Security card to ensure that you:
    • Type your SSN accurately into your applications and;
    • List your name exactly as it appears on your Social Security card;
    • If a parent helps fill out the applications, make sure they list your SSN, not their SSN or that of one of your siblings!
  • That you enter the student and parent birth dates accurately. Don't confuse one for the other!
  • The FAFSA and the Profile sometimes ask for the same information.  Make sure your answers match between the two forms!

Finally, be sure to read your Student Aid Report (SAR) carefully once you have submitted your FAFSA.  Many times, errors you may have made on your FAFSA are listed on the SAR along with instructions for how to correct them.

What Happens Next?

We know you are eager to get your financial aid offer as soon as possible, and we want you to have it, too.  We understand how important the financial aid offer is for many students in deciding which school to attend.  But it takes time to do a complete and accurate review of financial aid applications, especially given the volume of applications we receive here at UVA.  We ask for your patience, as we review applications in the order in which they become complete.

Meanwhile, check your To Do List in the Student Information System (SIS) to ensure we have everything we need.  If there are items still on your list, that means that you really have "to do" them!

You may want to contact us if you are an admitted first-year or transfer applicant, your enrollment decision is due within two-weeks’ time, and you haven’t yet received an aid offer. If that's the case, pick up the phone and call our office at (434) 982-6000 to see if there’s anything else you need to do.


A final note about scholarships: UVA meets student need with scholarships, grants, work-study and need-based loans. Generous donors provide much of the scholarship and grant funding. Your financial aid application submission authorizes the University to show your name, demographic information and relevant offer amount(s) to University Advancement and applicable donors(s). If you receive a donor-funded grant or scholarship, you can ‘opt out’ of this disclosure as required by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) at that time.