The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Apply for Aid

You must apply for aid every year. Filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step. Click on the sections below for more information.

Why should I fill out the FAFSA?

At the University of Massachusetts Amherst, you only need one form to apply for financial aid during the academic year - the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly called the FAFSA. The FAFSA is used to determine your eligibility for federal, state and institutional aid programs.

When should I fill out the FAFSA?

We recommend you apply immediately after October 1 to meet our priority filing date of May 1. The FAFSA may be submitted after May 1 provided that the student is enrolled in classes, but there is no guarantee that students who file after May 1 will be awarded financial aid.

You can upload your tax information by using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.

Be sure to list the University of Massachusetts's Federal School Code, 002221, on the FAFSA.

The FAFSA form is available in English and Spanish.

How do I fill out the FAFSA?

There are different ways to file. Choose the one that is easiest for you:

  • You can apply online at
  • You can complete a PDF FAFSA, you need to print the PDF available at and mail the completed form.
  • Contact 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) to request a paper FAFSA and for assistance in filing.
  • Go to your financial aid office for assistance.

Don’t forget UMass Amherst’s Federal School Code: 002221.

Seven Easy Steps to the FAFSA: A student’s guide to successfully completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

I don’t think I will qualify for financial aid. Should I file the FAFSA anyway?

Everyone should file the FAFSA! All eligible students qualify for something.

  • Determining your financial aid award: UMass Amherst believes that the primary responsibility for financing your college education rests with you and your family. However, financial aid is available to assist in your efforts to pay college costs. Eligible graduate students qualify for unsubsidized loans if you have successfully completed the FAFSA. To determine the amount that you may receive each year, Financial Aid Services considers the following criteria:
    • Enrollment in an eligible program: You must be enrolled in at least six (6) credits in an eligible degree-granting program. See Eligibility (link) for more information. (If you are a program fee student you may be eligible for a Federal Direct Loan if your credit hours of enrollment and research work on your degree requirements can be classified as equivalent to at least half time. The Graduate Registrar will certify your enrollment status upon notification from your graduate program director. Since there are no tuition charges for program fee students, loan funds may be used for indirect educational expenses and to pay for the program fee charge).
    • Cost of Attendance: includes tuition and fees as well as room and board, books and supplies, and personal and transportation expenses. Visit University Costs for a listing of tuition, fees, and expenses.
    • Do you have an assistantship or fellowship? Students who have an assistantship or fellowship generally receive less unsubsidized loan than those who do not. This is because you receive tuition and/or fee waivers with your assistantship or fellowship. Therefore, we cannot give you financial aid for those fees. Financial Aid Services will automatically assume you are receiving these waivers and will award you accordingly. Please contact us if you are NOT receiving an assistantship or fellowship.
    • Annual and lifetime eligibility limits: You may not receive unsubsidized loan amounts exceeding annual limits of $20,500 or lifetime limits of $138,500 (this includes all federal loans borrowed as an undergraduate student, including subsidized loans).
What happens after I file the FAFSA?
  • The FAFSA will be processed and electronically sent to Financial Aid Services at UMass. We will calculate your financial aid award based on your financial need (UMass Estimated Cost of Attendance – Expected Family Contribution from FAFSA).

  • Check your “To Do List" on SPIRE frequently after submitting the FAFSA. This is where we will communicate all requests to you. If there are any outstanding items on your “To Do List", your financial aid award may be delayed and/or canceled. Be sure to complete all items on your “To Do” list. Contact Financial Aid Services with any questions or concerns regarding your “To Do List".

  • We may be requesting verification of the following:
    • Citizenship documentation
    • High school completion status
    • Verification of identity
    • Number of people in the household and/or number in college
    • Government benefits received
    • Child support paid
    • Untaxed distributions, payments and interest
    • Adjusted gross income, taxes paid, credits and exclusions
  • If your FAFSA is selected for verification, you will need to fill out the proper verification worksheet, and provide our office with IRS tax return transcript or a signed copy of your IRS Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ. You can obtain an IRS tax return transcript at Click on “Get Transcript of Your Tax Records” under the orange “Tools” bar. You will have to create an account if you have not already done so.
  • Adjusting the Expected Family Contribution: A number of factors may cause Financial Aid Services to adjust your Expected Family Contribution in ways that can either reduce or increase your eligibility for financial aid.

  • Factors that can reduce your eligibility include (but are not limited to) your having:
    • Underestimated income, savings, or investments
    • Over-reported taxes, tax exemptions, family size, or the number of family members attending college
    • Reported business or real estate income or losses that do not decrease real income
  • Factors that can increase your eligibility include (but are not limited to) your having:
    • Over-reported income, savings, or investments
    • Under-reported taxes, tax exemptions, family size, or the number of family members attending college
    • Lost income due to unemployment or underemployment
    • Unforeseen medical expenses due to the major illness of an immediate family member
    • Other additional direct or indirect educational expenses while enrolled at UMass Amherst
  • 30% of FAFSAs are selected for verification by the U.S. Department of Education. It is an audit of your FAFSA data. UMass reserves the right to select any FAFSA for verification as well.

  • You have 60 days to submit all requested documentation. Failure to do so will result in the cancelation of any awarded financial aid or not receiving an award.

  • Once you have been awarded, you will receive an email informing you that your award can be viewed on SPIRE.