How to Fill Out the FAFSA: A Guide to College Financial Aid

It's important to fill out the FAFSA in order to be eligible for Federal aid.

Overview of the FAFSA

College education can be expensive! Getting financial aid like Federal student loans, state grants, or work-study will help ease the burden. You must fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to be eligible for Federal student aid.

The form is available from October 1st to June 30th every year. The scholarship grant would be for the next academic year. As of June 2023, the deadline is 11:59 pm Central Time, June 30th, 2023. Certain schools have priority filing dates, and you must comply with them.

You must fill out the FAFSA if you want financial aid for your college studies. You must submit the FAFSA to receive aid for each year of your studies. As a side note, you can get plenty of easy scholarships to receive more financial assistance!

You may be unsure about going to college next year. However, don’t miss out on filling out the FAFSA. There is no harm in doing so. By filling it out, you will know your eligibility for college financial aid. If you decide to go to college, you won’t miss out on the opportunity to get the financial assistance.

What are the benefits of completing the FAFSA?

With college education being so expensive, getting financial aid is crucial. The main benefit of completing the FAFSA is that it helps determine your eligibility for financial aid you don’t have to repay. It is also needed to get federal student loans.

Knowing about the FAFSA completion rates is important. High school seniors completing the FAFSA are 84% likely to enroll in postsecondary education. For the 2022-23 filing cycle, the FAFSA completion rate was 52.1%. Another interesting piece of information is 87% of students who met a school counselor completed the FAFSA as compared to 59% who didn’t meet a counselor. Meeting a counselor can help you get the information you need.

How can the FAFSA help you pay for college?

Completing the FAFSA can help you get the following:

  • Federal student aid in the form of grants you need not repay.
  • Scholarships
  • Federal direct loans (subsidized and unsubsidized).
  • Work-study jobs.
  • Loans.
  • Aid from the state government.
  • Financial aid from the school you join.

What information do you need to complete the FAFSA?

Before you start filling out the FAFSA, you must keep the following ready:

  1. Social security card with your number.
  2. An alien registration card (for non-citizens).
  3. Federal income tax returns, W-2s, and records of money earned. If you are a dependent, you also need this info for your parents.
  4. Bank statements and investment information.
  5. Records of any untaxed income.

Step-by-step for how to fill out the FAFSA

Let’s now come to the most crucial topic of how to fill out the FAFSA. It is essential to know how to fill out the FAFSA since it has to be done correctly. Many students fear the FAFSA application paperwork and hesitate to proceed. If you have met your school counselor, you would probably have taken the first step to fill out the form. If not, then we have a detailed guide on how to fill out the FAFSA.

You can fill out the FAFSA on the website
Screenshot of the FAFSA website

1. Create an FSA ID

The FSA ID is nothing but a username and password. You can get your FSA ID from here. Both the child and the parent need FSA IDs.

2. Start to fill out the FAFSA form

Start filling out the FAFSA form by logging in using your FSA ID and password. The student information, like name, date of birth, and SSN, must be updated. Choose the form depending on the time period when you will attend college. If you plan to attend during both periods, complete the form and wait for its processing. You can then fill out the second form.

3. Fill in the student demographics information

In this next section, you must provide your full name, date of birth, social security number, and record of whether you are a dependent or independent student. You must enter your parents’ details if you are a dependent student.

4. Choose the institutions

At this stage, you must select the schools or institutions where you plan to apply. You can choose up to 10 schools. The schools you apply to will get your FAFSA information and then offer college financial aid.

5. Enter dependency status data

You will then need to answer questions to determine if you are dependent or independent. You can use this link to get more information on whether you are dependent or independent. If you are independent, you can skip the next step.

6. Fill in the parent demographics information

You need to fill in details of your parents, like marital status (for single parents).If your parents are undocumented, enter zeros in the social security number. You also need to provide information about your household size.

7. Provide financial information data

You can use the IRS data retrieval tool to get information from the IRS on your form. It saves you time. Your parent may have to fill out this section and provide their details about income and investments.

8. Submit the form

Use your FSA ID to sign the FAFSA application form digitally. Parents must also sign if the student is a dependent. Submit the form and complete an important step towards getting college financial aid.

What happens after you submit the FAFSA?

Once you submit the FAFSA, the form will be processed. A SAR (Student Aid Report) is generated with all the FAFSA data, and you will get a copy within a week. Your information is then shared with the colleges you selected. The colleges then send you a financial aid offer. Review all the offers you get and decide your next course of action.

The big picture 

Hopefully, the information in this post has helped you understand all about FAFSA and its importance in getting Federal student aid. Don’t forget to apply by June 30th, 2023, for this year’s financial aid cycle. Don’t miss out on the opportunity!

Lastly, as you start college, you may need extra support with certain subjects. If so, tutors are available to help you with your studies. You can find a great tutor from Lessonpal’s pool of qualified tutors.

Frequently asked questions

How do you fill out the FAFSA form when you have more than one child in college?

As a parent, you must ensure each child fills out a separate FAFSA application. Transferring the FAFSA information from one form to another is possible, so you don’t have to type the parent details again.

How do I fill out the FAFSA if my parents don’t work?

If your parents don’t work but have tax forms, you can submit them. If there are no tax forms, you can contact the information center to get help filling out the form.

What grade do I have to be in to fill out my FAFSA? May I do it as a sophomore? If yes, how do I do it?

You must be a high school senior to fill out the FAFSA. If you are a sophomore in college, you must do it immediately to avoid missing out on getting financial aid.

Do parents or students fill out FAFSA?

It is the student who fills out the FAFSA application, but parent details must be provided in the form. So, both the student and parent should ideally fill out the form together.

When should a student fill out the FAFSA?

You should fill out the FAFSA application for next year anytime from October 1st to June 30th. It is advisable to submit the form as early as possible.

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