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Completing the FAFSA

Completing the FAFSA is as easy as 1, 2, 3… 4, 5!

  1. Gather Materials – You’ll need your social security card, current bank statements and, if you’re a dependent student, your parent(s)’ information. For the 2018-2019 FAFSA, you’ll also need your 2016 W2s and tax returns.
  2. Create an FSA ID – This username and password is used to electronically sign your FAFSA and other important financial aid paperwork. Visit fsaid.ed.gov to sign up.
  3. Fill It Out – The FAFSA is available at FAFSA.gov after Oct. 1 each year. Check out the Help and Hints box on the right side of the screen for assistance on answering each question.
  4. Sign & Submit – Enter your FSA ID to serve as your electronic signature. Don’t forget to click Submit at the bottom of the screen.
  5. Follow Up – Watch your email for a Student Aid Report (SAR) and information from the schools who’ve received your FAFSA results. Be sure to follow up with the financial aid office at your school if you have additional questions.

For more details, check out Finish the FAFSA in Five Steps or watch the Finish the FAFSA in Five videos, available in English and Spanish.

WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT THE FAFSA?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an application submitted to the federal government. It’s basically a snapshot of your financial situation. The information you submit on your FAFSA is used to determine how much federal and state financial aid you may be able to receive to help you pay for college.

Even if you don’t think you’ll qualify for financial aid, submit your FAFSA anyway. It’s not uncommon for students to assume they won’t qualify, only to be pleasantly surprised to find that they are eligible to receive one or more types of aid. Keep in mind that many scholarship applications now require a copy of your Student Aid Report (SAR), which is the report you receive after you submit your FAFSA.

By submitting the FAFSA, you’re not automatically signing up for student loans or committing to any colleges. You’re simply giving the college(s) you’re interested in attending an opportunity to discuss your financial aid options with you. So be sure to fill out the 2018-19 FAFSA as soon as possible after Oct. 1 this year. Visit FAFSA.gov for more information.

COMPLETING THE 2018-19 FAFSA

If you’re completing a FAFSA for the 2018-19 school year, there are some requirements you should be aware of. One of them is the FAFSA release date. This form becomes available on Oct. 1 annually, which allows you to fill out the FAFSA earlier than in past years and possibly learn your financial aid eligibility a little earlier, too.

Another change to the FAFSA that happened last year allows students and families to complete this form using tax information that should already be completed, eliminating the need to update your tax information on your application once your taxes have been filed. Since the 2018-19 FAFSA, released on Oct. 1, requires you to use your 2016 tax information, you can pull out your 2016 return and complete your application at FAFSA.gov right away! The sooner you apply after Oct. 1, the better!

If you’re unsure when to complete the FAFSA or about the correct tax information to be used, check out the chart below.

Information on which tax year's information should be used, which may also be found at https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa/filling-out#financial-info .

Also, to complete and submit the FAFSA online, students and parents will both need to create an FSA ID (Federal Student Aid ID) at FSAID.ed.gov. This username/password serves as your signature on the FAFSA and student loan applications and allows you to access other federal aid websites. It is beneficial for families to create their FSA IDs before starting the FAFSA in order to speed up the application process. Once the FAFSA is available, it can be completed online at fafsa.gov.

DON’T BE FOOLED: F IS FOR FREE!

NEVER pay to complete the FAFSA; the FAFSA is always free. As a matter of fact, that’s what the first F stands for:


Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

If you plan to submit the form online, be sure to file at FAFSA.gov, and avoid sites that offer to file your FAFSA for a hefty fee. Always check for the “.gov” to make sure you’re in the right place!

DON’T MAKE THE MISTAKE OF NOT APPLYING!

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) has never been faster or easier. However, there’s one mistake students and their parents often make: not completing the FAFSA at all!

Each year, many families don’t complete the FAFSA because they think they make too much money to qualify for aid. Counting yourself out before even starting is a huge mistake! Even if you think you won’t qualify for aid, you should still submit the FAFSA anyway.
Here’s why:

  • You could be missing out. Billions of financial aid dollars are offered every year. Those funds will be awarded to someone… and that “someone” could be you. But you’ll never know if you don’t apply!
  • Your school might use the data for other financial aid. Some schools use the data on your FAFSA to award school-specific grants and scholarships. So, in addition to missing out on federal funding, you could take yourself out of the running for school aid by choosing not to submit the FAFSA.
  • Federal student loans offer options. Even if you’re positive you’ll only qualify for student loans and you’re unsure about borrowing money for school, federal loans could be your best option. Federal student loans often have lower interest rates than private or alternative loans, and they offer flexible repayment plans. They’re also a better option than high interest credit cards.
  • There’s no obligation. You’re not required to accept the aid offered to you. You’ll have the option to decline any aid offered, or you may choose to limit how much you borrow.

The FAFSA is available on Oct. 1, so apply as soon after as possible at FAFSA.gov!

Get Your FSA ID Before You Start the FAFSA

The Federal Student Aid Identification (FSA ID) is used to log in to certain FSA websites, such as FAFSA.gov. It’s comprised of a username and password. If you used a the old PIN system to sign your last FAFSA, you’ll be given directions on how to set up an FSA ID the next time you log in at FAFSA.gov.

Setting up an FSA ID is easy, and it’s strongly recommended that you set it up before you start the FAFSA. Simply visit fsaid.ed.gov, click ‘Create an FSA ID,’ and fill in the requested information.

Here are a few things you need to know:

  • If you are a dependent student (see our FAFSA Dependency Questionnaire in the resources section), one of your parents will also need to set up their own FSA ID. Parents will use the same website and follow the same steps.
  • Your email address cannot be the same as your parent’s email address on the FAFSA. Make sure you have two separate email addresses before you set up your FSA IDs.
  • Because many high schools have firewalls to prevent students from receiving external mail, it’s best not to use an email address that’s been assigned to you by your school.
  • If you have any questions about the FSA ID, click ‘Help’ in the top right corner at fsaid.ed.gov. You’ll find a wealth of information there.

Don’t forget to submit your FAFSA as soon as possible for priority consideration for some types of financial aid!

Get Ready, Get Set, FAFSA!

Oct. 1 is quickly approaching, and we all know what happens then, right? The 2018-2019 Free Application for Federal Student AID (FAFSA) opens! Take these steps now to prepare.

  1.  Create your FSA ID. The Federal Student Aid ID is a username and password used to electronically sign your FAFSA and complete other important financial aid paperwork. The student and one parent will each need their own FSA ID. Be sure to keep track of the username and password you create. You’ll use your FSA ID for years to come, so be sure to use a personal email account when creating your FSA ID. You may not always have access to your school issued email account in the future.
  2. Gather your tax information. The 2018-2019 FAFSA will request 2016 tax information. Take the time now to locate 2016 income and tax information for both the student and parent(s). The IRS Data Retrieval Tool will be available for students and parents to transfer tax information directly from the IRS into the FAFSA. However, it will still be important to have your tax documents with you when you complete the FAFSA.
  3. Think about where you’re headed. You’ll have the opportunity to send your FAFSA to up to 10 schools you’re considering attending. Keep in mind you can log back into your FAFSA to add and remove schools if your plans change. Check out OKcollegestart.org to learn more about schools that would be a good fit for you and your goals.
  4. Ask questions. If you have special circumstances that you believe impact your ability to complete the FAFSA, ask for guidance now! Ask us by clicking on “Email Us Your FAFSA Question!” on the right side of this page. You can also contact your high school counselor or the financial aid office at your college to discuss your situation.

Completing the FAFSA is an important step toward funding your education after high school. Be sure to complete the application as soon as possible after Oct. 1!

Financial Aid Resources

“How will I pay for college?” That’s a question that everyone considering higher education is asking. Investigating your financial aid options can seem overwhelming, especially if no one in your family has ever been to college.

Here are some great resources to help you learn what options are available to you.

  • Your high school counselor. Counselors love talking about college—college preparation, choosing a college and financial aid options. Make an appointment with your counselor soon!
  • The financial aid office at your school(s) of interest. Each college, technology center and career school is different. Be sure to speak with someone in Financial Aid at each school you are considering to find out what types of aid you may be able to receive at their school.
  • Internet resources. 
  • The FAFSA. The first step in applying for many different types of aid is completing your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as it’s available! Students who will be attending college during the 2017-2018 school year can apply now at FAFSA.gov. You’ll need to wait until Oct. 1, 2017 to apply for financial aid for the 2018-2019 school year.

Are You Looking for Money?

When you’re investigating your financial aid options to help fund your education, always remember to go for the “free money” first. Free money is grants and scholarships that you don’t usually have to pay back.

The Pell Grant is a huge benefit for students who need help paying for school. Many factors go into deciding who is eligible for Pell grants, but three major factors are family income, household size and the number of people in the household who will be attending college. The maximum Pell grant a student can receive during the 2017-18 school year is $5,920, which is a $105 increase from last year.

If you must borrow student loans to pay for college, borrow only what you’ll need to pay your remaining expenses after the free money and college work study funds you expect to receive. For the 2017-18 school year, federal student loans will bear the following interest rates:

  • Direct Subsidized Loan (Undergraduate): 4.45%
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loan (Undergraduate): 4.45%
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loan (Graduate): 6%
  • Direct PLUS Loans (Graduate & Parents): 7%

To find out what types of federal and state aid you will be eligible to receive for college expenses, you must submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The 2017-18 FAFSA is available now, and the FAFSA for the 2018-19 academic year will be available on Oct. 1.

For more information about the types of aid that may be available to you, visit UCanGo2.org and read our popular booklet, Are You Looking for Money?