If you’re a high school or college student, or their parent, it’s time for FAFSA. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) filing season opened on October 1 for the 2018-19 academic year.

Completing the FAFSA form is free, and it gives you access to the largest source of financial aid to pay for college or career school. Submit your FAFSA form as soon as you can. Many states and schools allocate funds on a first-come, first-served basis. And some states have deadlines for filing the FAFSA form to be eligible for certain kinds of aid.

There’s no need to wait until your family has all of the necessary paperwork or has filed their income taxes to submit your FAFSA form. You can submit the form using estimates, and then update the form later.

While you’re at it, remember never to share your FSA ID (it’s what you use to log in to fill out your FAFSA form). And watch for scholarship and financial aid scams. Ads or offers from companies may claim they can get you financial aid, including grants, student loans, work-study and other types of aid. For a processing fee, they say they’ll handle all the paperwork. But the only way to get access to all that aid is by filling out your FAFSA form. And that’s free.

If you hear from companies or see offers that say they’ll process your FAFSA for a fee, stop. You can find all the help you need – for free – at StudentAid.ed.gov, the U.S. Department of Education’s site. File your FAFSA form online (again, for free). Need more help? Call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID.