Skip to main content

How to Apply for Financial Aid

Planning ahead is essential when applying for financial aid. The entire financial aid process can take up to eight weeks. It is important for you to get started as soon as possible after January 1 to ensure you receive your award in time to pay tuition and fees. That’s why the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid is here to help. Our financial aid advisors are available to answer your questions on a walk-in basis in the Welcome Center or by phone at 713-743-1010, option 5.

If you do not find the answers to all of your questions on this page, please visit the Scholarships and Financial Aid FAQs page.

Before You Apply

To be eligible for Federal Financial Aid you need to:

  • have a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) Certificate
  • be a U.S. citizen, or an eligible non-citizen
  • be enrolled at least half-time in a degree program
  • have a valid Social Security Number 
  • be registered with the Selective Service, if required
  • maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress
  • not be in default of any federal funds

Once you have determined that you are eligible, you are ready to begin the six steps to financial aid.

How to Avoid Delays

  • UTILIZE DATA RETRIEVAL - Beginning February 1, 2012, filers will be able to use the new Data Retrieval Process. The Data Retrieval Process allows the applicant to view and transfer IRS tax return data directly from the IRS website into the appropriate fields on the FAFSA. This means the FAFSA application process is faster and easier than ever!
    • AFTER FEBRUARY 1 - If you can wait until February 1, submit your FAFSA and use the Data Retrieval Process.  Waiting until the Data Retrieval Process option is available on February 1 is strongly encouraged.
    • BEFORE FEBRUARY 1 - If you can't wait until February 1 (due to grant, loan, or scholarship deadlines), submit your FAFSA in January and monitor your myUH account in the event that more documentation is needed because you have been selected for verification
  • PROVIDE CONSISTENT INFORMATION - A computer process scans your FAFSA and tax return to ensure all information matches. Please take great consideration in providing consistent information to avoid being flagged for verification. For example, listing "123 Main St." on your tax return and "123 Main Street" on the FAFSA could cause delays. It is recommended that you have your tax return in front of you as you fill out the FAFSA to ensure consistency.

Steps for Federal Applicants

STEP 1 - Parents and students, file tax returns as soon as possible
To complete the FAFSA, students (and most likely parents) will need to have filed an income tax return.  Students should file tax returns as soon as possible as it takes several weeks for the FAFSA IRS Data Retrieval Process to become available once the tax return has been filed.
  • Electronic tax returns—allow 2 weeks for FAFSA IRS Data Retrieval to become available
  • Paper tax returns—allow 8 weeks for FAFSA IRS Data Retrieval to become available
STEP 2 - Apply for Your Federal Personal Identification Number (PIN)
The federal PIN allows you to sign your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) electronically. Parents of dependent students must obtain a PIN as well, so that  they too can sign the FAFSA online. If you are a continuing student, you may use your PIN to access your FAFSA Renewal on the Web. Visit to obtain your Federal PIN.
STEP 3 - Complete Your FAFSA
To apply for financial aid, you MUST complete a FAFSA at You should complete the application as early as possible after February 1, and prior to April 1. You must complete the FAFSA (utilizing the Data Retrieval Process is highly recommended) and submit it by the priority deadline of April 1 to receive the maximum consideration for limited financial aid resources. The University of Houston’s Federal School Code is 003652. 

Watch: After the FAFSA: What Happens Next

STEP 4 - Review Your Student Aid Report (SAR)
You will be notified by the Department of Education via e-mail within 3-5 days that your Student Aid Report (SAR) is ready for review and has been forwarded to the school of your choice. If your SAR has errors, correct them online using your Federal PIN.
STEP 5 - Complete Your File if Additional Documentation is Required
While processing your FAFSA, additional application requirements may be requested to complete your file in a process called verification. You will be notified via email if your file is incomplete, but it is also recommended that you monitor your status online at myUH. The priority deadline to submit all documents is April 1.
STEP 6 - Check Your Status
In order to be eligible for federal funding, you MUST be a fully admitted degree-seeking student. Check your status online at
STEP 7 - Accept Your Awards
We will notify you via e-mail when you have been awarded financial aid. Accept or decline your financial aid award(s) at

University of Houston strives to make the Financial Aid process as straightforward as possible, but some students have unique situations that they need help with.  Browse this list of links to learn more about the financial aid application process.  If you still have questions, contact the Financial Aid Office.

Special Circumstances
Determining Your Financial Need
Disbursement of Aid
Maintaining Financial Aid Eligibility