FAFSA stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is the application that any student must complete to qualify for any type of federal financial aid.
The FAFSA may be completed online at www.fafsa.gov for FREE! This may be completed as early as October 1 for the following academic year.
*The Federal Student Aid PIN has been replaced with the FSA ID (username and password), as of May 2015.
What is required to complete the FAFSA?
To complete the FAFSA, you will need
- Your Social Security Number or Alien Registration Number
- W-2s from the appropriate year, if you worked in that year and
- Tax information for the appropriate year, if you filed taxes for that year OR
- You can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool
- Your individual FSA ID
- A personal email address
What is the FSA ID?
The FSA ID is the Federal Student Aid username and password that students and parents of dependent students will need to create to electronically sign the FAFSA.
How do I create an FSA ID?
The FSA ID may be created or edited at https://fsaid.ed.gov. Students and parents must create their own individual FSA ID since this will be used as an electronic signature, which should only be used by the respective individual.
What do I need to create an FSA ID?
Students and parents will need the following information to create an FSA ID:
- Personal information, such as social security number, name, date of birth, etc.
- Personal email to verify, students should NOT use a school email
- Create 4 challenge questions and choose a significant date (cannot use date of birth)
When can I use my FSA ID?
Once the FSA ID has been created, it can immediately be used to sign the FAFSA; however, it generally takes at least 24 hours for the Social Security Administration to verify your identity. This means you would not be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool until your identity has been confirmed.
Why do I need an FSA ID?
Students will use their FSA ID to sign the FAFSA and use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool as well as complete Entrance Counseling and sign the Master Promissory Note if they wish to borrow any Federal Direct Loans. Students will also use their FSA ID to manage any aspect of the federal aid in the future.
Parents of dependent students will use their FSA ID to sign the FAFSA and use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool and may use it to request a Federal Parent PLUS Loan if they wish to borrow an additional federal loan to assist their student. Graduate students could also use their FSA ID to request a Federal Graduate PLUS Loan.
What is the IRS Data Retrieval Tool?
The IRS Data Retrieval Tool is an option within the online FAFSA. This tool allows the student and/or parent to use their FSA ID to link to the IRS and directly import their tax information from the IRS onto the FAFSA for the appropriate year.
Is there any benefit to using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool?
Yes! Using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool allows you to instantly retrieve your IRS information and correctly fills in the tax information on the FAFSA automatically. If you are selected for Verification, this can drastically reduce processing time and reduce the amount of required paperwork.
For more information on how to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, please visit: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/resources/irs-drt-text
Is parent information required on the FAFSA?
Parent information is required on the FAFSA if you are unable to answer “Yes” to any of the FAFSA dependency questions.
- Will you be 24 or older by December 31 of the school year for which you are applying for financial aid?
- Will you be enrolled in and working toward a master’s or doctorate degree (such as M.A., M.B.A., M.D., J.D., Ph.D., Ed.D., etc)?
- Are you married or separated but not divorced?
- Do you provide more than 50% of the financial support of your children, if you have children?
- Do you have dependents (other than children or a spouse) who live with you and receive more than half of their support from you?
- At any time since you turned age 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care, or were you a ward or dependent of the court?
- Are you an emancipated minor or are you in a legal guardianship (not custody) as determined by a court?
- Are you an unaccompanied youth who is homeless or self-supporting AND at risk of being homeless?
- Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. armed forces for purposes other than training?
- Are you a veteran of the U.S. armed forces?
For a full list of dependency questions, visit: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa/filling-out/dependency#dependent-or-independent
If I am dependent, which parent should I include on my FAFSA?
If your legal (biological and/or adoptive) parents are married, you must include both parents on the FAFSA.
If your legal (biological and/or adoptive) parents are not married but live together, you must include both parents on the FAFSA.
If your legal (biological and/or adoptive) parents are not married and not living together, you will need to include the parent’s information you have lived with the most in the last 12 months.
- If you have lived with both parents equally or neither parent, you will need to provide information for the parent you financially supported you the most in the last 12 months or in the last year you did receive financial support.
- If that parent is remarried, you will need to also include information for that parent’s new spouse on the FAFSA.
If your legal (biological and/or adoptive) parent is widowed or has never been married, you will only need to include that parent’s information on the FAFSA.
*Never include grandparent information on the FAFSA, unless you have been legally adopted by that grandparent.
**Someone having custody alone does not make them a legal parent.
For more information, please visit: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa/filling-out/parent-info#who-is-parent
What happens after the FAFSA is completed?
Once you submit the FAFSA, you will receive a confirmation with a copy of your Student Aid Report or SAR. You may also log into your FAFSA to view your Student Aid Report with your FSA ID.
Your Student Aid Report (SAR) will summarize the information you included on your FAFSA. If your FAFSA is complete, it will also contain the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) as well as your estimated eligibility for federal financial aid.
What is the Expected Family Contribution (EFC)?
The EFC is used to determine federal financial need and your eligibility for federal student aid. This number results from the information you provide in your FAFSA.