Maryland’s Community College Promise program

Step #2  –  Apply.

March 1 is Maryland’s deadline to apply for need-based financial aid.

Act Now.  You can apply for the CC Promise and several other financial aid programs with one free application – the FAFSA.* Some students may use the MSFAA.**   

*FAFSA – Free Application for Federal Student Aid – Most students should apply with FAFSA.
**MSFAA – Maryland State Financial Aid Application – Only for those students ineligible for FAFSA. See  bottom of this webpage for more MSFAA information.


  • You can submit your FAFSA (MSFAA) now, even if you haven’t applied to college yet.

  • List the community college you are considering on your FAFSA (MSFAA). 

  • There is no commitment.

Complete the FAFSA – All guidance you need is here.

Step-by-step videos for completing the FAFSA are available at the YouTube account of the Federal Student Aid office of the U.S. Department of Education.

Videos will show you how to:

  1. Create your FAFSA account (FSA ID)5 minutes.
  2. Submit your FAFSA online – 30-60 minutes, faster if you use the IRS DRT.* Submitting the FAFSA means you will be considered for the CC Promise and several other need-based financial aid programs in Maryland.  
  3. Include your Federal School Code (FSC) on your FAFSA (MSFAA). Click HERE for Federal School Codes for all 16 Maryland community colleges.
*IRS DRT – IRS Data Retrieval Tool – a digital tool that allows transfer of data instantly and accurately from your tax return directly into your FAFSA.

See end of this webpage for information on submitting the MSFAA.

Good To Know:

  • Submitting the FAFSA (MSFAA) does not commit you. 
  • You can start your FAFSA and come back to complete it later – but not too much later – the deadline is March 1.
  • You can submit FAFSA (MSFAA) before you have applied to your community college. BUT be sure to list your community college’s Federal School Code on your FAFSA and apply to your community college soon after (see above.)
  • If you have already submitted your FAFSA, and did not list your community college’s FSC – you can add it until June 30.   
  • Use your 2019 tax return on your FAFSA (MSFAA) for the 2021-22 school year. If your financial situation has changed, submit your FAFSA (MSFAA) based on your 2019 information, then contact your community college’s financial aid office. 
  • Use the IRS DRT to save time. This digital tool will instantly and securely transfer data from your (or your parents’) tax return directly into your FAFSA. It can be used by either parents or students and it works for most tax filers.  
  • Creating an MDCAPS account (see below) can ensure you receive important, time-sensitive information from MHEC.

Maryland College Aid Processing System (MDCAPS)

The Federal Student Aid office of the U.S. Department of Education uses your FAFSA to determine your eligibility for federal student aid. It also shares information from FAFSA applications with the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC)  so MHEC can determine your eligibility for state aid.

MHEC uses the Maryland College Aid Processing System (MDCAPS) to evaluate and distribute need-based aid to Maryland college students. All applicants should create an account in MDCAPS to ensure they receive important notifications from MHEC.

Maryland State Financial Aid Application – only for those students ineligible for FAFSA. 

Students submitting the MSFAA must first create an MDCAPS account to access the MSFAA form, and then use the form to apply. The MSFAA is available in the MDCAPS portal after an applicant has created an account. Click the following link for more information on the MSFAA: FAQs.

CC Promise awards are based on student eligibility and available program funding. Tuition and mandatory fees are covered for accepted students who have remaining unmet need after all other financial aid is applied. Tuition may not be fully covered in some enrollment situations. Discuss with your community college when enrolling.
The Maryland Community College Promise program is separate from, and in some cases may be supplemental to, a county or community college’s Promise program. The above information is accurate as of February 2021.