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Preparing for the FAFSA

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) can seem daunting, but we are here to help you through the process!

Need more help? See the Federal Student Aid help website for filling out the FAFSA.


First... Set Up Your FSA ID

The first step is to create your Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID) - your username and password for most federal financial aid websites. It is important that students set up their own FSA ID to prevent potential issues in the future - and because individuals are not authorized to create an FSA ID on behalf of someone else, including a family member. You should try to set this up no later than one week prior to when you intend to start your FAFSA to allow sufficient time for processing.

If you are a dependent student for federal aid purposes, both you and at least one parent must have an FSA ID. The parent should also set up their own FSA ID. Just as parents are not authorized to set up an FSA ID on behalf of their student, students are not authorized to set up their parents' FSA ID either. Please note graduate-level students are considered "independent" and do not need parent information or signature on the FAFSA.

You will use your FSA ID throughout your time in college and after college to access federal aid information systems, so it's important to remember your FSA ID and password.

Sign Up for an FSA ID Now

If you already have an FSA ID, make sure you are prepped and ready with your log in information.

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Second... Gather Some Information

To submit your FAFSA, you will need:

  • Your Social Security number (or Alien Registration number if not a U.S. citizen)
  • Your driver’s license number if you have one
  • Your federal income tax returns, W-2s, and other records of money earned for the specific financial year required by the FAFSA. Note: You may be able to transfer your federal tax information into your FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool - which saves you from having to input tax information!
  • Bank statements (information on cash, savings, and checking account balances) and records of investments (if applicable) - including stocks, bonds, real estate (not including the home in which you live), and business and farm assets
  • Records of untaxed income (if applicable), such as child support received, interest income, and veterans noneducation benefits for the specific financial year required by the FAFSA

If you are a dependent student for federal aid purposes, you will also need the information above for your parent(s).

What financial year information is required for the FAFSA?

It can be hard to understand which year's financial information is being requested on the FAFSA. Depending on which question it is on the FAFSA, it may ask for current information or financial information for a certain financial year. Pay attention to the question, because it will either say "current" within the question or list a specific financial year.

Here are the pertinent, specific financial years based on the FAFSA year.

FAFSA Aid Year Semesters Covered Financial Year Requested
2020-2021 Fall 2020 and Spring/Summer 2021 2018 financial information (unless the question is specifically requesting current information)
2021-2022 Fall 2021 and Spring/Summer 2022 2019 financial information (unless the question is specifically requesting current information)

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Third... Complete and Submit Your FAFSA!

Once you have gathered everything, you are ready to submit your FAFSA via the myStudentAid app or online.

See our Complete the FAFSA page for answers to some frequently asked questions.

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