STEP BY STEP GUIDE
STEP BY STEP ASSISTANCE TO HELP YOU FILL OUT THE FAFSA APPLICATION FOR FREE!
Are you confused and in need of assistance understanding the FAFSA process and filling out the FREE application!
Allow us to guide you step by step through the process and help you understand how to fill out the application.
We provide you with website links, examples, videos and grant funding resource, all on this page. Continue scrolling to read more!
Easy FAFSA Steps!
Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) is the first step towards getting federal aid for college, career school, or graduate school.
Its absolutely true; for those wanting to be back to school and or looking to start attending school. The funding can be used for educational purposes like tuition fees, books fees, room and board, food, transportation and etc. Did you know that if your an individual and or family member of an individual for whom he or she is/was an Active/Veterans/Retired Military personnel, you can get funding from the government for school and or to start a business. As well; for serving our country in the military, depending on a few factors - you wont have to pay any of the issued funding for school and or your business, back to the government, which equals "FREE FUNDING".
STEP BY STEP GUIDANCE:
Do you need help understanding how to fill out your FAFSA® application, tried of companies and or individuals charging you money to help you fill out the FAFSA application. Did you know FAFSA is FREE, and they cant fill out the application without your documentation and personal information to complete the form. Here's some organic food for thought, why not save the headache, problems and money and do it yourself.
Have you gone to the website but don’t know where to start? Well, we’re here to help you with the entire process. You’ve already done the hard part and gathered all of the necessary and important information needed to complete the application form. If you haven't yet; no worries, just continue reading below as we have the information, resources and links listed of what's needed to complete the form. If you have your information handy, and your ready to get started, lets complete the FAFSA application together. Allow us to walk you through the step by step process below. There are a few videos as well as written content for you to follow.
BEFORE YOU HEAD TO THE FAFSA WEBSITE; FIRST YOU MUST:
GATHERING THE DOCUMENTS NEEDED TO APPLY:
The FAFSA asks for information about you (your name, date of birth, address, etc.) and about your financial situation. Depending on your circumstances (for instance, when did you filed taxes or what tax form you used), you might need the following information and or documents as you fill out the FAFSA:
- Your Social Security number (it’s important that you enter it correctly on the FAFSA!)
- 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 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 non-education 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 these records! You may need them again. Do not mail your records to us.
A QUICK OVERVIEW ON FAFSA
Completing and submitting the FAFSA is FREE, QUICK;
and it gives you access to the largest source of financial aid to pay for college or career school. In addition, many states and colleges use your FAFSA data to determine your eligibility for state and school aid, and some private financial aid providers may use your FAFSA information to determine whether you qualify for their aid.
When do I fill out the FAFSA?
The FAFSA has been available since Jan. 1.
The FAFSA launches each year on Jan. 1.
There are different FAFSA deadlines for different programs: You can find state deadlines at fafsa.gov
HOW TO FILL OUT THE FAFSA APPLICATION
The Simple Process:
Step #1. Go to fafsa.gov.
- One thing you don’t need in order to fill out the FAFSA? Money!
- Remember, the FAFSA is FREE when you use the official .gov site: fafsa.gov.
Step #2. Choose which FAFSA you’d like to complete.
- The new FAFSA that becomes available on January 1, of each year.
- You should complete the FAFSA if you will be attending college between July 1 and June 30.
- Remember, the FAFSA is not a one-time thing. You must complete your FAFSA each school year.
Step #3. Enter your personal information.*
- This is information like your name, date of birth, etc.
- If you have completed the FAFSA in the past, a lot of your personal info will be pre-populated to save you time.
- Make sure you enter your personal information exactly as it appears on official government documents. (That’s right, no nicknames.)
Step #4. Enter your financial information.* All of it.
- You should use income records for the tax year prior to the academic year for which you are applying.
- For example, if you are filling out the current year FAFSA, you will need to use your previous year tax information.
- If you or your parent(s) haven’t filed your taxes yet, you can always estimate the amounts using your previous tax return; just make sure to update your FAFSA once you file your taxes.
- Once you file your taxes, you may be able to automatically import your tax information into the FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. It makes completing the FAFSA super easy!
Step #5. Choose up to 10 schools to which you wish to apply, and we will send the necessary information over to them so they can calculate the amount of financial aid you are eligible to receive.
- Make sure you include any school you plan to attend, even if you’re not sure yet.
- This will prevent your financial aid from being delayed. If you’re applying to more than 10 schools.
Step #6. Sign the document with your PIN.*
- The PIN serves as your electronic signature, or e-signature.
- You’ll use it to electronically sign and submit your FAFSA. If you don’t have a PIN, you’ll need to get one.
- If you’ve completed the FAFSA in the past, you probably already have a PIN. You can use the same PIN you used in the past to renew your FAFSA each school year, so keep it in a safe place.
- If you have forgotten your PIN, you can retrieve it.
- If you’re considered a dependent student, at least one of your parents or your legal guardian will need a PIN as well.
- If you or one of your siblings have completed the FAFSA within the last 18 months, your parent(s) will use the same PIN they used before. If not, your parent(s) may need to apply for a new PIN.
Step #7. Confirmation.
- Check your email for confirmation of any and all information needed for your FAFSA application as well as to confirm that they received your documents and application.
YOU FILLED OUT YOUR FAFSA & SUBMITTED IT;
What happens next?
No, you won’t get a check in the mail from the government right away. There’s more to it than that..
- Where does my FAFSA information go once I submit it?
- How can I check to see whether my FAFSA has been processed?
- Who will I hear from, and when?
- What do I do if I’m told I’ve been selected for verification?
- What if I made a mistake on my FAFSA? How do I correct it?
- Can I update information on my FAFSA if my situation has changed since I filed it?
- How do I decide what aid to accept, and how do I accept it?
- How do I get my money?
Where does my FAFSA information go once I submit it?
Your FAFSA information is shared with the colleges and/or career schools you list on the application. The financial aid office at a school uses your information to figure out how much federal student aid you may receive at that school. If the school has its own funds to use for financial aid, it might use your FAFSA information to determine your eligibility for that aid as well. (The school might also have other forms it wants you to fill out to get school aid, so check with the financial aid office to be sure.)
Your information also goes to your state higher education agency, as well as to agencies of the states where your chosen schools are located. Many states have financial aid funds that they give out based on FAFSA information.
So, your FAFSA helps you apply for federal, state, and school financial aid. Not bad for a form that takes students an average of less than 25 minutes to complete!
How can I check to see whether my FAFSA has been processed?
You can check the status of your FAFSA immediately after submitting it online. You can check the status of a paper FAFSA after it has been processed (roughly 7–10 days from the date mailed). Here’s how:
- Option 1: Go to www.fafsa.gov and log in.
- Option 2: Contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center.
If your FAFSA is still being processed, we recommend that you wait a few days before checking the status again.
Who will I hear from, and when?
First, we (the office of Federal Student Aid at the U.S. Department of Education) will send you a Student Aid Report (SAR), which is a summary of the FAFSA data you submitted. You’ll get your SAR within three days to three weeks after you submit your FAFSA. Be sure to look over your SAR to make sure you didn’t make a mistake on your FAFSA. Find out more about the Student Aid Report, its purpose, how the type of FAFSA you file determines when you’ll get the SAR, and what you should do with it.
The SAR won’t tell you how much financial aid you’ll get. Instead, if you applied for admission to a college or career school and have been accepted, and you listed that school on your FAFSA, the school will calculate your aid and will send you an electronic or paper aid offer, sometimes called an award letter, telling you how much aid you’re eligible for at the school. The timing of the aid offer varies from school to school and could be as early as springtime (awarding for the fall) or as late as immediately before you start school. It depends on when you apply and how the school prefers to schedule awarding of aid.
What do I do if I’m told I’ve been selected for verification?
You might see a note on your Student Aid Report saying you’ve been selected for verification; or your school might contact you to inform you that you’ve been selected. Verification is the process your school uses to confirm that the data reported on your FAFSA is accurate. Your school has the authority to contact you for documentation that supports the information you reported.
If you’re selected for verification, don’t assume you’re being accused of doing anything wrong. Some people are selected at random; and some schools verify all students' FAFSAs. All you need to do is provide the documentation your school asks for—and be sure to do so by the school’s deadline, or you won’t be able to get financial aid.
If you used the Internal Revenue Service Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) when filling out your FAFSA, and you have not changed any of the information retrieved, you will not have to verify that information. If you didn’t use the IRS DRT and you’re selected for verification, log back in at www.fafsa.gov to see whether you can use IRS DRT to fill in the relevant fields on your FAFSA. If not, your school may require you to submit a tax transcript as part of the verification process. You can find your tax transcript through the IRS’s Get Transcript service at www.irs.gov/transcript.
What if I made a mistake on my FAFSA? How do I correct it?
Once your application has been processed, you can correct your FAFSA online or on paper. (Making corrections online is the easiest and fastest option.)
Can I update information on my FAFSA if my situation has changed since I filed it?
There is some information that must be updated if it changes, while most information cannot be updated. Find out the difference and how to update FAFSA information.
How do I decide what aid to accept, and how do I accept it?
You’ll need to understand the aid that’s being offered (for instance, is it free money such as a grant, or is it a loan that you’ll have to pay back?), decide what aid you really need, and then respond to the school’s award letter within the deadline set by the school. Get details about accepting aid.
How do I get my money?
The financial aid staff at your college or career school will explain exactly how and when your aid will be paid out. They also will tell you whether you need to fill out any more paperwork or meet other requirements. For instance, if you’re receiving a federal student loan for the first time, you should expect to be required to sign a promissory note and go through entrance counseling. Be sure to keep in touch with your school’s financial aid office so that you understand the whole process of receiving your aid.
How long does it take to complete the online FAFSA application?
Filling out FAFSA can take anywhere from 21 minutes to 55 minutes, which is not too long for free money. And don't say that your family's too wealthy or your grades are too low. These are all myths about financial aid, according to the Department of Education. Don't leave money on the table.
Also, just because you filled out FAFSA in 2014 doesn't mean you're exempt this time around. A new application must be filed each year. If there's more than one college student in your family, you have to submit separate applications. You can do it online or via snail mail.
The national deadline for filling out the FAFSA is June 30, but states and colleges have individual deadlines. In some cases, the deadline is for sending in FAFSA; in others, it means the application has to be processed by a certain date. You should check to make sure which definition your school/state goes by.
Below is a brief list of deadlines. If your state doesn't appear, contact your school's financial aid office. Assume all dates are for the current year, unless specified otherwise:
- Arkansas -- June 1
- California -- March 2
- Connecticut -- Feb. 15
- Delaware -- April 15
- Washington, D.C. -- April 1
- Florida -- May 15
- Idaho -- March 1
- Indiana -- March 10
- Iowa -- July 1
- Kansas -- April 1
- Louisiana -- June 30
- Maine -- May 1
- Maryland -- March 1
- Massachusetts -- May 1
- Michigan -- March 1
- Missouri -- April 1
- Montana -- March 1
- Nevada -- June 30
- New Jersey -- June 1
- New York -- June 30
- North Dakota -- April 15
- Oklahoma -- March 1
- Rhode Island -- March 1
- South Carolina -- June 30
- Tennessee -- March 1
The Three Types of Deadlines?
1. Federal student loan deadline: There are two FAFSA deadlines: the priority deadline and the final deadline. If you meet the priority deadline, you have the greatest chance to receive subsidized loans and grants. (Subsidized means the government will pay the interest that accrues while you are enrolled in school.) If you miss the priority deadline, you can still meet the final deadline and qualify for student loans. But, if you miss that, you will need to contact your college’s financial aid office and see what they can do for you, having not received your FAFSA when they received everyone else’s. You may also apply for private student loans at this point.
2. State deadline: Your state needs to receive your FAFSA and any other required forms by another date. You can use the FAFSA deadlines tool to find out exactly when your state needs to hear from you.
3. Your school’s deadline: Finally, your school likely provides its own financial aid. To do this, the school will also need to see your FAFSA. Contact your college’s financial aid office to learn when you need to submit your FAFSA in order to qualify for school-funded grants, scholarships and other tuition assistance.
What to Do if You Miss these Deadlines?
If you miss the FAFSA deadline, you can still Apply for Private College Loans, but your Federal loan options are limited. You should still complete it once you realize your mistake, and then contact the college’s financial aid office. They may allow you to explain the reasons behind the delay and you may still be eligible for scholarships, work study or other aid. But, there is a finite amount of money available, so it’s possible if you are late filing your FAFSA, there really won’t be anything left. In this case, you’ll have to look into paying the upcoming year’s tuition bills with private student loans and alternatives to student loans.
Alternatives to Federal Student Loans?
Even if you don’t receive federal loans, you may still be eligible to receive some Private Student Loans, grants or independent scholarships. Places to look for these opportunities include your state, county or city government; private foundations; national and local service organizations; trade organizations in the field that you intend to study; and banks and credit unions. Your school’s guidance counselor may be able to help you get started. Also, you may need to apply for part-time work while you’re in school to help defray some of the costs.
Access Instant Downloads
FAFSA VIDEO RESOURCES
Introducing Aid Summary
How to Create an Account
Troubleshooting Your Account
Types of Federal Student Aid
How To Manage My Loan
Determining Your Dependency Status