Before You Apply

An Overview of Need Access

Your schools have selected Need Access to determine their students’ most accurate financial picture available to award school-based financial aid. Since different schools need to know different things, the questions on your Need Access application will depend on the schools you select. Based on your selections, Need Access will create one “master” application with all the questions you need to complete – saving you time and money.

We recommend that you complete the Need Access application at the same time you’re filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It requires some of the same information, so it makes sense to do them together. Don’t forget to check the application deadlines and requirements with the school(s) you select before starting.

You can choose up to 16 schools to start, but you can always add more schools later with no additional annual fee. *For instructions, see the FAQ.

Providing Your Financial Data

Prior to starting the Need Access application, be sure to review the application worksheets to give you an idea of the type of financial data you’ll need to provide.

Most schools require your parents’ financial information even if you claim independent status. So, talk to your parents and make sure they’re prepared. Take a look at the application worksheets to see what you’ll need.

Note: Not including your parents’ data when it’s required could seriously hinder your ability to obtain school-based aid. It could even disqualify you completely.

Completing the Need Access Application

Your “master” Need Access application will be comprised of all the questions required by the schools to which you are applying. In addition, the “Special Circumstances” section allows you to submit information you feel is relevant, but may not be adequately captured with the questions asked.

If you don’t understand or require an additional explanation of ANY question, simply click the question mark icon next to that question. If the explanation provided doesn’t help, you can always send your question to NeedAccess@AccessGroup.Org or call 800-282-1550 Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. ET. (For a quick reply, be sure to have the question reference number, located next to the question.)

You have two options for completing the Need Access Application. Choose the method that best suits your needs.

  1. One User: Either the student or the parent can choose to complete and submit the entire application.

    • In this case, you will select all of the forms on the Forms Selection and Instructions page, and then click “Next” to get started. The user will first complete the student form, and then complete the parent form(s), if required by the school. When all forms are complete, you may submit your application and follow the instructions for making your payment.

  2. More Than One User: If either the student or the parent(s) does not wish to share sensitive financial information with the other, then both the student and the parent(s) can register for separate user IDs. The data will be kept separate until the application is complete and submitted. At this point, one single Need Access application will be sent to the school(s).

    • In this case, select only the form you wish to complete. When you’re finished, direct the other party to register for an account and complete his or her form. On the “Identify Application” page, the next party to complete his or her form will have to enter the student’s Social Security number (or Applicant ID, in the case of international students) to retrieve this application. Then, simply complete the appropriate form. When the application is 100% complete, as indicated on the “My Applications” page, it can be submitted by either the parent or the student by clicking “Submit Application” and following the instructions for paying the annual fee.

Important Note: For security reasons, once a user starts one of the forms, that form is now locked by that user. If you decide that you and your parent(s) want to complete separate forms, be certain not to start their form. *See the FAQ

We recommend that you review the application worksheets before beginning this application. They will help you understand the information that will be required so you can gather the supporting documents ahead of time.

Submitting Your Application

The “My Applications” status page will indicate your progress. Once you’ve finished, you’ll be directed to PayPal® to pay your annual fee.

  • $28 - For first-time applicants
  • $15 - For returning applicants (subsequent years)

You can pay with a major credit card, debit card, or your PayPal® account.

Then What?

Once your payment is received, we’ll process your data within one (1) business day and transmit the information to each school you’ve selected.

You can easily make changes or corrections and add more schools to your list even after you’ve submitted the application. Simply log back into the “My Application” page. *See the FAQ.

Note: If you add schools, you may also have to complete any new questions those new schools require. *See the FAQ.

Finally, the financial aid administrators at your school(s) will assess the data and determine your eligibility for school-based financial aid. Now, let’s get started. Select “New Users” or “Returning Users” at the top of the page.

If you filed a non-U.S. tax form, you will be asked similar questions about your income and assets without reference to the IRS forms.

Complete your
Need Access Application
Student instruction book cover

Download Student Guide and Application Instructions booklet