Filling Out the FAFSA
Your guide to applying for Federal Student Aide
Show me the MONEY! $$
Types of Aide
-Scholarships/Grants (Money you don't have to pay back, can be based on merit/data such as grades, test scores, first generation student, etc OR demonstrated financial need)
-Loans (Money you DO have to pay back-can be taken out by parents and/or students)
-Work Study (you are employed on campus, get paid and are responsible to make sure that this money helps pay your bills)
The video below gives a great over view of this process:
Tell me more about the FAFSA!
The list of items you need to complete the application is outlined at the bottom of this page.
STUDENTS CAN START APPLYING OCTOBER 1st! It is strongly recommended that you file the FAFSA as soon as possible after it opens on October 1st. Many times students will hold off until applications to college are done but this is not necessary. We urge this because student aid does run out and so getting it done early positions you towards the front of the line when financial aid is distributed.
More on the process below.
What do I need to file??
- Your Social Security number (it’s important that you enter it correctly on the FAFSA form!)
- Your parents’ Social Security numbers if you are a dependent student
- Your driver’s license number if you have one
- Your Alien Registration number if you are not a U.S. citizen
- Federal tax information or tax returns (most recent completed) including IRS W-2 information, for you (and your spouse, if you are married), and for your parents if you are a dependent student:
- IRS 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ
- Foreign tax return and/or
- Tax return for Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, or Palau
- Records of your untaxed income, such as child support received, interest income, and veterans noneducation benefits, for you, and for your parents if you are a dependent student
- Information on cash; savings and checking account balances; investments, including stocks and bonds and real estate but not including the home in which you live; and business and farm assets for you, and for your parents if you are a dependent student
Keep in mind that you can always start and then save your progress once you start the FAFSA.
You and a parent will need to get an FSA ID (at least 3 days) before you can start the FAFSA process
To get an FSA ID, you’ll need this information:
- your Social Security number
- your full and correct name
- your date of birth
Go to fsaid.ed.gov to create an FSA ID
This has to be done at least 3 days prior to starting the FAFSA process
Frequently Asked Questions About the FAFSA
Why do I have to pay to complete the FAFSA? You don't!
You never have to pay to complete the FAFSA. After all, the first “F” in FAFSA stands for FREE! There are companies that will charge you a fee to file your FAFSA, but you can always complete the FAFSA for free on the official government website: fafsa.gov. (Notice the .GOV!) If you need help with the application, we have resources available for free.
When is the FAFSA deadline?
States, schools, and the federal government each have their own FAFSA filing deadlines. It is important that you research all of these deadlines and complete the FAFSA by your earliest deadline. That being said, because some types of aid are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, it is highly recommended that you fill out the FAFSA as soon as you can to ensure that you do not miss out on available aid.
Do I have to complete the FAFSA every year?
Yes, you need to fill out the FAFSA each school year because your eligibility for financial aid can differ from year to year for various reasons, including your family’s financial situation and the number of your family members enrolled in college. If you filled out a FAFSA last year and want to renew it, go to fafsa.gov, click “Login”, and be sure to select “FAFSA Renewal” once given the option. That way, many of the (non-financial) questions will be pre-filled for you. Just be sure to update any information that has changed since last year.
Which FAFSA should I complete?
If you’ll be attending college between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022, select “Start a 2021-22 FAFSA.” This is for any senior who plans on taking college classes the summer after graduation.
If you’ll be attending college between July 1, 2022 and June 30, 2023, select “Start a 2022-23 FAFSA.”
**Remember, you must complete the FAFSA each school year, so if you’ll be attending college during both periods of time, you should fill out both applications.
TIP: If you need to fill out both applications, complete the 2021-22 FAFSA first. That way, when you complete the 2022-23 FAFSA, a lot of your info will automatically roll over.
If you are applying for a summer session, or just don’t know which application to complete, check with the college you are planning to attend.
We hope that helps answer some of your questions. If you have additional questions about the FAFSA, you can send us your questions via Facebook and Twitter. For more information about completing the FAFSA, visit StudentAid.gov/fafsa.
My parents make too much money, so I won’t qualify for any aid.
FACT: The reality is there’s no income cut-off to qualify for federal student aid. It doesn’t matter if you have a low or high income; most people qualify for some type of financial aid, including low-interest federal student loans. Many factors besides income—such as your family size and your year in school—are taken into account.
TIP: When you fill out the FAFSA form, you’re also automatically applying for funds from your state, and possibly from your school as well. In fact, some schools won’t even consider you for any of their scholarships (including academic scholarships) until you’ve submitted a FAFSA form. Don’t make assumptions about what you’ll get—fill out the application and find out!
I support myself, so I don’t have to include my parent’s info on the FAFSA® form.
FACT: This is not necessarily true. Even if you support yourself, live on your own, or file your own taxes, you may still be considered a dependent student for FAFSA purposes. The FAFSA form asks a series of questions to determine your dependency status. If you’re independent, you won’t need to include your parents’ information on your FAFSA form. But if you’re dependent, you must provide your parents’ information.
If you’re a dependent student, find out who is considered your parent for FAFSA purposes. (It’s not as obvious as you might think.)
I should wait until I’m accepted to a college before I fill out the FAFSA® form.
FACT: Don’t wait. You can start now! As a matter of fact, you can start as early as your senior year of high school. You must list at least one college to receive your information. You SHOULD list all schools you’re considering even if you haven’t applied or been accepted yet. It doesn’t hurt your application to add more schools; colleges can’t see the other schools you’ve added. In fact, you don’t even have to remove schools if you later decide not to apply or attend. If you don’t end up applying or getting accepted to a school, the school can just disregard your FAFSA form.
- You can add up to 10 schools at a time.
- If you’re applying to more than 10 schools, here’s what you should do.
- If you want to add another school after you submit your FAFSA form, you can log in and submit a correction.
The schools you list will use your FAFSA information to determine the types and amounts of aid you may receive.
If I didn’t receive enough money for school. I’m just out of luck.
FACT: You still have options! If you’ve received federal, state, and college aid but still find yourself having to fill the gap between what your financial aid covers and what you owe your school, check out these 7 options.
I should call “the FAFSA® people” (Federal Student Aid) to find out how much financial aid money I’m getting and when.
FACT: No, you’ll have to contact your school. Federal Student Aid does not award or disburse your aid so we won’t be able to tell you what you’ll get or when you’ll get it. You will have to contact the financial aid office at your school to find out the status of your aid and when you should expect it. Just keep in mind that each school has a different timeline for awarding financial aid.
There’s only one FAFSA® deadline and that’s not until June.
FACT: Nope! There are at least three deadlines you need to check: your state, school, and federal deadlines. You can find the state and federal deadlines at StudentAid.gov. You’ll need to check your school’s website for their FAFSA deadline. If you’re applying to multiple schools, make sure to check all of their deadlines and apply by the earliest one. Also, if you’re applying to any scholarships that require the FAFSA form, they might have a different deadline as well! Even if your deadlines aren’t for a while, we recommend you fill out the FAFSA form as soon as possible to make sure you don’t miss out on any aid.
I only have to fill out the FAFSA® form once.
FACT: You have to fill out the FAFSA form every year you’re in school in order to stay eligible for federal student aid.
I can share an FSA ID with my parent(s).
FACT: Nope, if you’re a dependent student, then two people will need their own FSA ID to sign your FAFSA form online:
- You (the student)
- One of your parents
An FSA ID is a username and password that you use to log in to certain U.S. Department of Education (ED) websites. Your FSA ID identifies you as someone who has the right to access your own personal information on ED websites such as StudentAid.gov.
If you’re a dependent student, your parent will need his or her own FSA ID to sign your FAFSA form electronically. If your parent has more than one child attending college, he or she can use the same FSA ID to sign all applications. You’ll need a unique email address for each FSA ID.
Your FSA ID is used to sign legally binding documents electronically. It has the same legal status as a written signature. Don’t give your FSA ID to anyone—not even to someone helping you fill out the FAFSA form. Sharing your FSA ID could put you at risk of identity theft and could cause delays in the FAFSA process!
Only students with good grades get financial aid.
FACT: While a high grade point average will help you get into a good school and may help with academic scholarships, most federal student aid programs do not take grades into consideration when you first apply. Keep in mind that if you want to continue receiving aid throughout your college career, you will have to maintain satisfactory academic progress as determined by your school.