FAQs

 

When do I fill out the FAFSA?

You’ll want to complete your form as soon as possible after Oct. 1 of your senior year of high school and then each year you need financial aid. Also, keep in mind that some financial aid programs that require the FAFSA have application deadlines early in the year.

 

Where can I get a FAFSA?

Go to FAFSA.gov to complete the form online and receive step-by-step instructions. You can download the 2014-15 FAFSA (PDF) to fill out or request a paper copy by contacting the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID.

 

How much does it cost to complete the FAFSA?

You should never pay to fill out the FAFSA; it’s always free. Make sure you go to FAFSA.gov, which is the official FAFSA website. Other sites and organizations may try to charge you to complete or submit the form.

 

Is my personal information safe when I apply online?

Yes. FAFSA.gov is a secure site and your information is encrypted for privacy.

 

What if I have a question while I’m completing my FAFSA online?

View the ‘Help and Hints’ box on the right-hand side of each screen to get answers to your questions. Also, on the FAFSA home page, there’s a link called “Help” which contains useful tips and techniques for preparing, completing and submitting your form. You may also click the “Contact Us” button at the top of your screen for a list of ways to submit your questions to the processing center.

 

How do I find the school codes to enter on my FAFSA?

All codes can be found on the official FAFSA website, FAFSA.gov. You can search by school name or by the city and state where the school is located.

 

I’ve heard about a process that downloads my tax information directly into the online FAFSA. How does that work?

The IRS Data Retrieval tool is a process that helps streamline the FAFSA by allowing online FAFSA filers to pull specific tax return data directly from the IRS. The retrieval tool will save you time and increase the accuracy of your FAFSA information.

 

What if I completed my entire FAFSA online, but forgot to apply for a PIN. How quickly can I get one?

On the last page, click to apply for a PIN. Complete the information and you’ll receive your PIN almost immediately. You can also request a PIN at pin.ed.gov.

 

I was completing my FAFSA online and lost all of my information. How did that happen?

You must hit the ‘Save’ button often. Always use the ‘Next’ and ‘Previous’ buttons on the site. Never use the ‘Back’ button on your browser or you may lose your information.

 

Do I need to complete my taxes before filling out the FAFSA?

While it’s best to get your taxes done early, FAFSA now uses tax information from two years prior, so you’re probably already up-to-date. If you don’t have your taxes done, you can still submit your FAFSA using estimated income and tax information. However, once you file your tax return, you’ll have to correct your FAFSA if any information changes.

I completed the paper FAFSA. Do I need to mail my tax return with it?

No. You should never send tax returns with your FAFSA. If the financial aid office needs your tax information, they’ll request it.

 

I live with my grandparents. Do I use their information on the FAFSA?

No. Always include information about your parents, if possible. If you have a special situation, you should contact your school’s financial aid office.

 

Whose income do I report if my parents are divorced?

The parent you lived with the most during the last 12 months.

 

My parents are divorced and I lived with each of them equally during the last 12 months. Whose income should I enter on the FAFSA?

If you lived with each parent for the same amount of time during the past year, you should include income information for the parent who provided you the most support during that timeframe.

 

One of my parents recently lost their job and can no longer afford to pay for college. What can I do?

Contact your school’s financial aid office; they may be able to offer alternatives.

 

I’m currently considered a dependent student, but I’m getting married next month. Can I complete my FAFSA now as an independent student?

No. The rules state you must be married at the time you submit the FAFSA to be recognized as an independent student.

 

My parents have money in a 401(k). Do I need to include that information in my application?

No. Your parents’ retirement funds are not used when calculating the Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

 

I’m pregnant. Can I include my unborn baby in the household size on my FAFSA?

Yes, you can include an unborn child in your household size if he/she will be born within your school’s academic year.

By claiming a child, you may qualify as an independent student only if you will provide more than half of the child’s support during the academic year for which you’ve requested financial aid.

 

I’ll more than likely get a full scholarship; do I still need to complete the FAFSA?

Don’t take the chance and miss out on financial aid. Complete the FAFSA.

 

My parents saved a lot of money for my college education, but all the funds are under my name. Is that a good idea?

No. The FAFSA uses a larger percentage of student income and assets when determining the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), so it’s best to keep all savings accounts under the parent’s name.

 

How do I know if I’m considered a dependent or an independent student?

Use this dependency questionnaire (PDF) to determine your status. If you’re deemed an independent student, you will not need to provide your parent’s information when completing your FAFSA.

 

What happens once I submit my application?

You’ll get a SAR—a Student Aid Report. If you have an email address on file, the Department of Education will send an email within three to five business days with instructions for viewing your SAR online. The schools you listed on your FAFSA will also receive a copy of your SAR.

Carefully review the information provided or additional information requested, and send any additional information back as soon as possible. Once your application is finished, the financial aid office will send you an award letter letting you know what types of aid you’re eligible for. You don’t have to accept all of the aid awarded. Borrow only what you need for school expenses, like tuition, books and housing.

 

Who can I talk to if I have more questions?

Contact the financial aid office of the school you plan to attend. They can answer your questions and direct you to helpful resources.

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