The federal student aid application is a form that is filled out by current and prospective college students in the United States to determine if they are eligible to receive financial aid for their studies.
In this post we will show you how to fill out the FAFSA form correctly.
The FAFSA form uses Skip Logic technology, which means that not all FAFSAs will have the same questions. For example, a student completing the FAFSA for the first time will not have the same questions as a student who is renewing the FAFSA. Likewise, a thirty (30) year old student will not have questions to prove dependency as a student who is dependent on someone.
Before you begin the process, we recommend the following:
– If you are unsure about how to answer a question, click on the question mark at the end of the question.
– To navigate through the FAFSA you should use the Previous and Next buttons, not the browser arrows. This is because, if you use the browser arrows, you will lose information on the FAFSA and will have to start the form from scratch.
The FAFSA (Free Application Federal Student Aid), is a form used to obtain financial aid to cover expenses related to higher education. This form can be completed at https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa or download the myStudentAid application.
This form will determine if you will need your parents’ information such as their marital status and tax return. You will not need your parents’ information if you are 24 years of age or older, or if you are married. On the other hand, if you are a high school student or recent graduate, the FAFSA will most likely ask for your parents’ information.
Completing the FAFSA
To complete the FAFSA, you must follow these steps:
- The first thing you must do, as a new student, is create an FSA ID, which will generate a username and password that will be required to complete the FAFSA. In addition, it will be used to digitally sign the FAFSA and to transfer tax information from the Internal Revenue Service to the FAFSA. Finally, it will also be needed to access your federal student aid information.
Important: If you need your parents’ information, they will also need to generate the FSA ID.
- Then we will proceed to start the FAFSA form, selecting the period in which we will begin our studies.
- The next step is to create the access key. This will allow us to save our information and then return to complete and submit the application. The access key is composed of 4 to 8 characters, with a combination of numbers and letters of your choice.
Important: do not share the access key with anyone except your parents as they will need to complete the section where their information is required.
After you have both the access key and the FSA ID, you will be ready to fill out the FAFSA. Below, we will describe the process in sections.
FIRST SECTION: BASIC INFORMATION
In this section we must provide our basic information. Make sure that the name you enter here is the same as the name that appears on your Social Security card.
We recommend that you do not use nicknames or abbreviated names. Remember that if the name you enter on the FAFSA is not exactly the same as the name on your Social Security card, there will be delays in receiving and/or processing federal student aid.
In addition, we must provide your phone number and e-mail address. The Department of Education and colleges use e-mail as the primary means of communication, so we recommend that you check it regularly.
If you are a bluff student, and you are completing the FAFSA for the first time, in this section you will need to indicate whether you are registered with the Selective Service System. If you are not registered, the FAFSA will allow you to register. Although it is not completely necessary to register to receive federal aid, we recommend that you do so as some states require you to register.
Next, you must search for your high school by entering the name, city and state in which it is located, select it from the menu and click on the next button.
SECOND SECTION: SELECTION OF INSTITUTIONS
In this section we must select the universities we wish to attend. If you are already a college student, you must indicate the name of the college. You may choose up to ten (10) colleges when you first complete the FAFSA. If you wish to add more, you may do so by returning to the saved FAFSA.
If you prefer to view the colleges in a specific state, select it and you will see an alphabetical list of colleges located in that state. If you include the name of the city, the search process will be easier. Choose the colleges you wish to attend and add them to the FAFSA.
Finally we proceed to choose your housing plans, whether you are going on or off campus or with your parents.
THIRD SECTION: DEPENDENCY STATUS
This section determines whether you need information about your parents. The FAFSA considers your biological or adoptive parents to be your parents. Answer the FAFSA with information about them and not about anyone else.
Note that if you answer Yes to any of the questions in this section, you will not need your parents’ information. Some of the questions will already be complete because of the information previously included.
You must also include the number of people living in the household, as well as the number of your parents’ other children, even if they do not live in the same household, but will receive more than half of your parents’ financial support during the school year for which you are applying for financial aid.
If more people live in your parents’ household, you should include the number in this section, as long as they receive more than half of your parents’ financial support and will continue to do so during the school year for which you are applying for financial aid.
Next, we must include the number of people in the household who will be attending college at least half-time during the school year for which you are applying for financial aid. Remember not to include your parents.
Next, we must include our parents’ demographic information. Here we must include information about your marital status (will determine if you must include information for both parents). If your legal parent is single or widowed, you should include only their information. If your parents are widowed or separated, we recommend that you include the information of the parent who has given you the most financial support. However, if your parents have moved back home, include your stepparent’s information as well. If your parents are married to each other or live together, but are not married, then include information for both of them.
In the social security number box, you will fill it in with zeros (0) if either of your parents do not have social security.
SECTION FOUR: FEDERAL INCOME TAX RETURN
In this section, the FAFSA will tell you which federal tax filing year to use. Depending on the status of your parent’s federal tax filing, they may be able to use the IRS Data Query and Transfer tool to transfer some tax return data directly to the FAFSA.
This will redirect them to the IRS website. If your parent has an FSA ID, they can log in without any problems, otherwise they should generate one on this page. If for some reason an FSA ID cannot be created, your parent will have to complete the information manually.
Important: the address must be the same address your parents used when they filed their tax return.
On the IRS website, simply click the Submit button. On the last page, click the Transfer my tax information to the FAFSA form checkbox. Finally, click the Transfer Now button.
If your parents filed a joint tax return, they will need to provide information about the amount of income each parent earned.
Also, the FAFSA will ask for information about your parents’ taxable and non-taxable income.
There may be additional financial questions such as the amount of your parents’ cash, savings or checking accounts, or the value of real estate they own, not including the address where they live or businesses. Remember to read each question carefully.
SECTION FIVE: STUDENT’S FINANCIAL SITUATION
In this section you must include federal tax information as long as you have worked and filed a tax return. This process is similar to your parents’ federal income tax information.
SECTION SIX: SIGN AND SUBMIT
In this section you will find a summary of the information you have submitted on the FAFSA. Review it carefully, and if you find any errors, click on the question to return to it and correct the information. After you have corrected the error, return to the summary page by selecting FAFSA corrections.
Finally, when you have reviewed the entire summary and the data is correct, click the Next button.
We will now proceed to the Sign and Submit portion of the FAFSA. Here, we and our parents must sign the FAFSA, which will be done automatically if we use the FSA ID. If not, you will need to provide your username and password.
After this, both parents and students must agree to the terms and conditions. Then, on the next page, click on Sign this FAFSA and finally click on the Submit my FAFSA now button.
SEVENTH SECTION: CONFIRMATION
Finally, you will receive the confirmation page that lists the colleges selected and the family’s expected contribution. This page will be sent to the e-mail address you included in the FAFSA.