If you’re in the process of applying to college or renewing your financial aid for the next school year, you’re probably familiar with the term “FAFSA.” FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It is a form you fill out to determine eligibility for grants, loans, and work-study.
But how do you fill out the FAFSA? The form can be conveniently completed online! Read below to learn about what to expect and what documents you will need before you begin.
Step 1: Gather the information you’ll need
Your financial information is used to determine aid eligibility. If you are a dependent, then your parent’s information will be used. Here is a list of information or documents you might need while filling out the form:
- Social Security number
- Parents’ Social Security numbers (for dependent students)
- Driver’s license number
- Alien Registration number (for non-U.S. citizens)
- Federal tax information or tax returns
- Parents’ federal tax information or tax returns (for dependent students)
- Records of untaxed income such as child support, interest income, and veterans non-education benefits
- Information on cash, saving and checking account balances, investments, and other assets
To make this process even easier, you may be able to use the IRS’ Data Retrieval Tool to automatically populate tax information into your form.
Step 2: Access the form
The FAFSA form is available starting October 1 of the previous year. This means that the 2021-22 form became available on October 2020. To access it you can visit fafsa.gov or use the myStudentAid mobile app. If you don’t have a way to access the form online, you can request a printed version by calling 1-800-4-FED-AID.
Step 3: Fill out the form
For a preview of the questions on the form, you can read through the 2021-22 FAFSA on the Web Worksheet. Once you’re ready to start, access the FAFSA form and fill out all the required information. Here are some tips to avoid common mistakes:
- Start early! Give yourself time to find require documents, check your numbers, and ask any questions.
- Ensure you’re using the correct website! FAFSA is free to submit. If you’re asked to provide payment information, you’re not on the official government website.
- Double check important fields such as Social Security numbers.
- Use your legal name. The name listed on your FAFSA form should match that on your Social Security card.
- Verify that your information is correct before submitting. Mistakes could cause delays or prevent you from getting aid.
For more information on what you can expect when filling out the FAFSA, please visit www.studentaid.gov.