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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!

What Should You Do First?

The first step is to set up a Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID). You should try to sign up for an FSA ID at least one week prior to when you intend to complete your FAFSA to allow sufficient time for processing.

If you are a dependent student for federal aid purposes, both the you and at least one parent must have an FSA ID. 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 at college to access multiple federal websites, 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.

What Information Do You Need for the FAFSA?

If you are a dependent student for federal aid purposes, you must provide parent information on the FAFSA. Most students are considered dependents for federal aid, even if they are supporting themselves financially. Use this chart to determine if you are dependent (and must provide parent information) or independent (and not required to provide parent information).

If you are able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (which is part of the FAFSA) to pull your tax information from the IRS directly into your FAFSA, that’s great! It makes the process faster and easier for YOU! However, not everyone can use the IRS DRT. For information about who is eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.

See the image below for what information you will need in addition to tax information or visit for a full list.

Not sure what tax year information to provide? The FAFSA will tell you! However, if you're gathering documentation, visit for more on appropriate taxes.

Preparing for the FAFSA: The FAFSA process is quicker and easier when you have a username and password called an FSA ID. (If your parent is providing information on your FAFSA, he or she will need his or her own FSA ID as well.) Learn more about the FSA ID and how to create yours at Gather this Information: The FAFSA asks questions about you and your finances, so have the information below handy: Social Security number; Alien registration number; Federal tax information or tax returns; records of untaxed income; cash; savings; and checking account balances; investments other than the home in which you live. Don’t have all your Info ready yet? That’s okay: you can start the FAFSA, save it, and come back later to finish it. (To find out whether you need to report info about your parents, visit