The free application for student financial aid, also referred to as FAFSA, covers questions about a student's intended educational institution, personal information, such as address, social security number and birth date, as well as financial records from both the student and parents. The application is used to determine how much a student is able to contribute financially to his education.

Once the FAFSA is completed, the information is forwarded to colleges and universities designated by the student. Each college's financial aid office will then determine the amount of federal financial aid the student qualifies for based on his academic standing, financial obligations and family situation. For example, a student may qualify for free federal or state grants that will not have to be paid back, or a student may only qualify for federal loans designated for students enrolled in higher education institutions.

The questions on the FAFSA determine if a student has additional financial obligations, such as dependents or a mortgage. In addition, the FAFSA also requests students and parents to list property assets and cash on hand in bank accounts. If a student's financial or personal status changes while enrolled, he can appeal his financial aid package with the college's financial aid office and may need to revise the FAFSA application.