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About the FAFSA

Overview

FSA ID – fsaid.ed.gov
An FSA ID is a username and password that you must use to log in to certain U.S. Department of Education (ED) websites. Each student and at least one parent will need to have an FSA ID in order to submit the FAFSA.

Keep your FSA ID in a secure place where you will be able to find it each year.

FAFSA – studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa
To apply for federal grants, work-study, and federal loans, you need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Completing and submitting the FAFSA is free gives you access to the largest source of financial aid to pay for college.

Many colleges also use your FAFSA information to determine if you are eligible for state or institutional grants and scholarships.

What do I need to apply?

  • FSA ID
  • Social Security Card and Driver’s License
  • Parent and Student Tax Documents and W2s
  • Documentation of untaxed benefits (child support, disability, veterans non-education benefits, etc)
  • Current bank and investment account statements
  • Business and/or farm records

Common Errors

Watch out for these mistakes that are often made when submitting the FAFSA:

  • Incorrect Name
    You must use your legal name, exactly as it is reported to the social security administration. Using a nickname or initial may result in a data mismatch error; which slows down the processing of your application.
  • Household Size
    The FAFSA is very specific about who is considered a member of the household. Read the directions carefully to avoid having to make corrections later.
  • Number of family members in college
    The FAFSA asks for the number of people in the household attending college during the next academic year. Always include the student and any brothers or sisters, but do not count any parents attending college.
  • Net worth of investments
    The FAFSA outlines which investments should be included in this amount. For example, a 529 savings plan should be included, but a home or vehicle should not be included. The FAFSA help section on investments gives more information about what to include/exclude.
  • Income Tax withheld vs. Income Tax Paid
    The FAFSA form is asking for your calculated income tax not the amount of income tax withheld from your earnings. This is a common error and can be avoided by using the FAFSA help section that tells you exactly what income tax line item to use.
  • Independent vs Dependent Student
    Students who fully support themselves, pay their own bills, and file their own taxes, may still be considered a dependent student by federal student aid purposes. Dependency guidelines for the FAFSA are different from those of the IRS. There are ten questions on the FAFSA that determine if a student is independent or dependent. IF a student is considered dependent they will be required to include parent information on the FAFSA.