If you need financial aid for college, you must complete the free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form. The 2018–19 FAFSA form is available as of Oct. 1, 2017. You should fill it out as soon as possible at fafsa.gov.
Here is what you’ll need to be prepared to fill it out:
1. Your FSA ID*
An FSA ID is a username/password to log in to certain U.S. Department of Education (ED) websites. Each student, and one parent of each dependent student, will need an FSA ID to complete the FAFSA process on fafsa.gov. We recommend creating your FSA ID early to avoid delays. For step-by-step instructions, a video is available on YouTube.
IMPORTANT: Do NOT create an FSA ID on behalf of someone else. That means parents should not create FSA IDs for their children and vice versa. Doing so may result in issues signing and submitting the FAFSA form and could lead to financial aid delays. (Also, it’s against the rules to create an FSA ID for someone else.)
2. Your Social Security number*
You can find the number on your Social Security card. If you don’t have access to it, ask your parent or legal guardian or get a new or replacement card from the Social Security Administration. If you are not a U.S. citizen, but meet Federal Student Aid’s basic eligibility requirements you’ll also need your Alien Registration number.
3. Your driver’s license number
If you don’t have a driver’s license, then don’t worry about this step.
4. Your 2016 tax records*
Changes made to the FAFSA process, beginning with the 2017–18 FAFSA form, now require you to report income information from an earlier tax year.
On the 2018–19 FAFSA form, you (and your parents, as appropriate) will report your 2016 income information, rather than 2017 information.
Since you’ll already have filed your 2016 taxes by the time the FAFSA form launches, you’ll be able to import your tax information into the FAFSA form right away using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT).
Not everyone is eligible to use the IRS DRT, and the IRS DRT does not input all the financial information required on the FAFSA form. Therefore, you should have your 2016 tax return and 2016 IRS W-2 available for reference.
You cannot use your 2017 tax information. If you have experienced a reduction in income since the 2016 tax year, you should complete the FAFSA form with the info for 2016, and then contact each of the schools to which you’re applying to explain and document the change in income. They have the ability to assess your situation and make adjustments to your FAFSA form if warranted.
5. Records of your untaxed income*
The FAFSA questions about untaxed income may or may not apply to you, but you’ll still need to report answers on the 2018-19 FAFSA form.
6. Records of your assets
This includes savings and checking account balances, as well as the value of investments such as stocks, bonds and real estate (except the home in which your family lives). You should report the current amounts as of the date you sign the FAFSA form, rather than the 2016 tax year amounts.
7. List of the school(s) you are interested in attending
Even if there is only a slight chance you’ll apply, list the school on your FAFSA form. You can always remove schools later, but if you wait to add a school, you could miss out on first-come, first-served financial aid.
The schools you list will automatically receive your FAFSA results electronically. They will use your FAFSA information to determine the types and amounts of financial aid you may receive.
If you add a school to your FAFSA form and later decide not to apply to that school, that’s OK! The school likely won’t offer you aid until you’ve been accepted anyway.
You can list up to 10 schools on your FAFSA form at a time.
TIP: To be considered for state aid, several states require you to list schools in a particular order. Visit studentaid.ed.gov to learn more.
Information supplied by the U.S. Department of Education