FAFSA information and completion tips
What is it?
The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It is the form that the federal government uses to determine your eligibility for federal aid. This aid can include grants, scholarships,
work-study and loans.
Why complete the FAFSA on the Web?
Completing your FAFSA on the Web can speed up the FAFSA process. Using the Web version of the FAFSA can cut down on postal service delays. It also allows the federal processor to do a "final
check" of your information to make sure your FAFSA is ready for processing before it is submitted.
Tips for completing the FAFSA
- The FAFSA becomes available each year on January 1. Be aware of this and complete the FAFSA as soon as possible. Since funds are limited at many schools, early submission of the FAFSA maximizes
your chances of receiving some types of aid.
- Submit the FAFSA whether or not you think you qualify for aid. Sometimes being rejected for federal aid is a prerequisite for receiving private awards.
- Review all of your data on the FAFSA every year. Your eligibility can change from year to year, depending on your family's circumstances.
- Contact your college's financial aid office for additional information. Your school may require additional forms or may have an earlier submission deadline.
- If you applied for financial aid last year, you might qualify for a Renewal FAFSA, which has fewer questions and pre-filled information fields.
- If you have any questions, call 1-800-4-FED-AID.
Before you complete the FAFSA on the Web
Can I save my FAFSA on the Web?
If you don't have immediate access to a printer or you are worried about keeping your internet connection while online, you can save your FAFSA application online by clicking the Save button at
the bottom of each step. Saved steps will be stored for 45 days. (You should also print a completed FAFSA for your records. You can print just before you click the submit button at the end of your
FAFSA on the Web.)
Be sure you remember the password that you entered at the beginning of your application. If you forget it, you cannot look it up. You will have to start your FAFSA again from the beginning.
How do I sign a FAFSA on the Web
Whether you complete a paper or electronic FAFSA, you will be required to provide your signature (and parent's signature if you are a dependent student).
There are several ways to complete this signature:
- Use your 4-digit PIN issued by the Department of Education to electronically sign your FAFSA. (Note that your parents will need their own PIN to electronically sign your FAFSA.)
- Print off the signature page, get the required signatures and mail the form to the address listed on your signature page.
- The third option is the slowest and is not recommended. You can wait until you receive your Student Aid Report (SAR), get the required signature(s) and then return it to the federal processor
through the U.S. Postal Service.
What is a PIN?
The Personal Identification Number (PIN) is the code that the U.S. Department of Education uses to identify you online. You do not need a PIN to complete your FAFSA on the web. However, having a
PIN will allow you to electronically sign your FAFSA, check the status of your electronic FAFSA and/or make any changes necessary to your personal information online. Using a PIN as your signature
for the FAFSA can speed up your processing time. It is important to keep your PIN private because it allows you (or someone else) to electronically sign documents and access confidential
information. Treat it as you would treat your bank/credit card codes.
How do I get a PIN?
Students and parents who are eligible to receive a PIN can visit www.pin.ed.gov to "Apply for a PIN".
5 Most Common FAFSA Mistakes
- Do not leave a field blank. Use a zero if the question does not apply to you.
- Remember to report ALL required sources of untaxed income.
- Use the 1040 Federal tax return for reporting income and taxes paid, not the W-2.
- Include yourself in household size, even if you didn't live there the previous year.
- Sign the application. If you are filing as a dependent student, make sure your parents sign too.
After you have completed the FAFSA...
- Read your Student Aid Report (SAR) carefully. The SAR is the official record that proves the federal processor received your FAFSA. If you find any errors on your SAR, you should report them to
your college's financial aid administrator to ask how you should make corrections. Unresolved errors could impact your federal aid awards.
- Call the federal processor at 1-800-433-3243 if you do not receive your SAR in 4-6 weeks. Be ready to provide your name, social security number and date of birth for verification.
- Check if your SAR has been selected for verification. Look under the date (on the top right corner) for the letters EFC, followed by a series of numbers. If there is an asterisk (*) after your
EFC (Expected Family Contribution), your SAR has been selected for verification. That means that your college will compare your SAR with documents, including tax transcripts, that verify your
financial status. If asked, submit the information requested to your college's financial aid office as soon as possible. Your aid may be delayed or decreased if the materials are not provided
- To minimize delays, complete your FAFSA online. Visit www.fafsa.gov .