1. Create an account (FSA ID)
- College student: An FSA ID is a username and password that you need to sign the FAFSA form online. If you do not have an FSA ID, you will receive an FSA ID here as soon as possible. It takes about 10 minutes to create an FSA ID. The first time you fill out the FAFSA form, you can immediately use your FSA ID to sign and submit your FAFSA form online. If you are not filling out the FAFSA form for the first time, you may have to wait one to three days for us to review your details before you can renew your FAFSA form with your FSA ID and sign it online.
Some of the most common FAFSA errors occur when students and parents confuse their FSA IDs. If you do not want your financial support to be delayed, it is extremely important that each parent and student create their own FSA ID and not share it with anyone, including each other.
2. Start the FAFSA® form under fafsa.gov
The FAFSA Form 2021-22 was released on October 1st! Even if your state and school deadlines don’t last for a while, you should fill out the FAFSA form as soon as possible because some states and schools run out of financial assistance early and have limited resources. Don’t wait until the last minute to apply!
TIP: If you are the parent, see Parents Guide on how to fill out the FAFSA form.
- If you are the student: Click on “I’m the Student”. Enter your FSA ID username and password and click “Next”.
- If you are the parent: Click “I am a Parent, Preparer, or Student from a Free Associate State.” Provide the student’s name, social security number, and date of birth, then click Next.
Select the FAFSA form you want to fill out:
- 2021-22 FAFSA form if you attend college between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022.
- 2020-21 FAFSA form if you are attending college between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021.
- Both: If you are in college in both periods and have not yet completed your FAFSA 2020-21 form, fill it out first, wait one to three days for it to be processed, and then fill out the FAFSA 2021 form –22 off again.
TIP: If you are given the option to complete a FAFSA renewal form, select that option. If you want renew In your FAFSA form, your demographic data from the previous year will be transferred to your new application, saving you time.
Remember that the FAFSA form is not a one-time thing. You must fill out a FAFSA form for each school year.
Create a storage key
- In contrast to the FSA-ID, the storage key should be used jointly. A storage key is a temporary password that you and your parents can use to “pass” the FAFSA form back and forth. You can also save the FAFSA form and refer to it later. This is especially useful when you and your parents are not in the same place.
3. Complete the Student Demographics section
This is information like your name, date of birth, etc. If you have completed the FAFSA form in the past, or if you log into the FAFSA form with your FSA ID, a lot of your personal information will be pre-filled to save you time. Make sure to enter your personal information exactly as it appears on your social security card. (Right, no nicknames.)
Remember, the FAFSA form is the student’s application, not yours. If it says “you” or “your” on the FAFSA form, it is referring to the student (unless otherwise noted). Pay attention to whether you are asked for information from students or parents.
4. List the schools that you want your FAFSA® information to be sent to
In the school selection section Add each school you are considering, even if you haven’t applied yet or haven’t been accepted. It won’t hurt your application to add more schools. Colleges cannot see the other schools you’ve added. In fact, if you later decide not to apply or attend, you don’t even have to remove schools. If you fail to apply or get accepted into a school, the school can simply ignore your FAFSA form. However, you can always remove schools to make room for new schools. You can add up to 10 schools at a time. If you are applying to more than 10 schools here is what you should do.
5. Answer the questions about the dependency status
In the Dependency Status section, you will be asked a number of specific questions to help you determine whether you need to provide high level information on the FAFSA form.
The dependency guidelines are set by Congress and are different from those used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Even if you live alone, feed yourself, and file your own taxes, you can still be considered a dependent student for federal student grants. If you are determined to be a dependent student, you must report information about your parents. If you are determined to be an independent student, there is no need to provide parenting information and you can skip the next step.
6. Complete the Parent Demographics section
This is where your parents provide basic demographic information. Remember, it doesn’t matter if you don’t live with your parents. You will still need to report information about if you have been designated as a dependent student in the step above.
First, determine who is your parent on the FAFSA form.
7. Provide your financial information
This is where you and your parents (if applicable) provide your financial information. This step is incredibly easy when using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT). The IRS DRT allows you to import your IRS tax information into the FAFSA form with just a few clicks. Using this tool can also reduce the paperwork that you have to provide to your school. So if you are eligible, use it!
To access the tool, please indicate on the Student or Parent Finance page that you have already completed taxes. If you are authorized, you will see a “LINK TO IRS” button. Select this option and follow the instructions.
8. Sign and submit your FAFSA form
You are not finished with the FAFSA form until you (and your parents if you are a dependent student) sign it. The quickest and easiest way to sign your FAFSA form is online with your FSA ID.
Note: If you (the student) initially logged in to the FAFSA form with your FSA ID, you do not need to enter it again on this page. However, if you are a dependent student, your parents will still need to sign before you can fully submit.
Tips for signing and sending:
- If you or your parents forget your FSA ID username or password, they can be retrieved.
- Make sure you and your parents don’t mix up your FSA IDs. This is one of the most common mistakes we see and why it is extremely important for every person to create their own FSA ID and not give it to anyone else.
- Make sure the parent using their FSA ID to sign the FAFSA form selects the correct parent number from the drop-down menu. If your parents don’t remember whether they were listed as Parent 1 or Parent 2, they can come back to review parent demographics.
- If you have siblings, your parent can use the same FSA ID to sign FAFSA forms for all of their children. Your parent can also transfer their information into your sibling’s application by selecting the option provided on the FAFSA confirmation page.
- We recommend signing the FAFSA form with an FSA ID as this is the fastest way to process your FAFSA form. However, if you and / or your parents are unable to electronically sign the FAFSA form with an FSA ID, you can email a signature page. On the Sign & Send page, select Other Sign & Send Options, and then choose Print Signature Page. Keep in mind that your FAFSA form will take longer to process if you go this route.
I’m done. What’s next?
Congratulations on graduation! You are one step closer to getting paid for college. When the hard part is over, read this page to learn what to do next.