The FAFSA is a lengthy form, and can be a daunting one — especially for those who are applying for financial aid for the first time.
Be prepared for the hassle but don’t let it deter you from submitting your FAFSA and getting the aid for which you qualify.
Before you begin, make sure you’ve done the necessary prep work – that you’ve created an FSA ID and assembled all your tax documents and other paperwork.
If you don’t have all the documents ready yet, it is perfectly okay to start your FAFSA, save it, and come back later to finish it.
To submit your FAFSA, you now have four (4) options: mobile, online, PDF and paper.
1. FAFSA Mobile
2. FAFSA Online
Alternatively, you may do it online through www.FAFSA.gov. It is available in both English & Spanish. To help you through the process, step-by-step instructions are provided throughout the online application process.
3. PDF FAFSA
PDF is also available for you to print and fill out manually or is screen-fillable. Remember, you must sign, date, and mail the form to the address provided for processing.
4. Paper FAFSA
If you don’t have Internet access, you can request a paper FAFSA by calling
Federal Student Aid Information Center
The easiest and fastest way is to complete the online version of the FAFSA at www.fafsa.gov, known as FAFSA on the Web or through the myStudentAid mobile app.
Unlike the FAFSA in the past, both the newly-redesigned website and mobile app will implement “skip logic” so that students and parents see only the questions that apply to them, skipping the unnecessary ones.
To help you through the process, step-by-step instructions in plainer language are also provided throughout the online application process, so you won’t get bogged down by the form’s confusing financial jargon.
- Why FAFSA On The Web?
FAFSA On The Web offers several benefits
- Filing the FAFSA online can help reduce processing time by one to two weeks.
- You will get your Student Aid Report (SAR) sooner than with the paper or PDF forms.
- Your FAFSA will be more accurate, since the FAFSA on the Web has built-in edit checks to catch simple errors.
- Automatic retrieval of your tax information straight from IRS.gov to the FAFSA application using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.
- FAFSA on the Web allows you to list up to ten colleges, while the paper FAFSA has space only for four colleges.
And now with myStudentAid app, you can
- manage your FSA ID. If you do not already have one, you can create your username and password directly from the app,
- complete your FAFSA faster as myStudentAid uses “skip logic” to skip over unnecessary questions that are not pertaining to you,
- automatically retrieve your tax information straight from IRS.gov to myFAFSA application using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool,
- connect the application with the College Scorecard, showing key Scorecard metrics for each institution you’ve selected for easy comparison,
- access to federal loan and student aid history using myFederalLoans feature,
- start a new FAFSA, save your progress, and come back later, even on another device. Yes, starting on one device, finishing it on another.
Residents of seven states — Iowa, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont — may also transfer FAFSA information into their state aid application using the mobile app.
- When should FAFSA be completed?
October 1 is the earliest day you can submit your FAFSA. The official deadline is June 30 but may differ from state to state. In general, you should complete it no later than June 30 or file no later than April 1 in order to meet the state “priority” deadline.
While the form is technically not due until June 30, you’ll have a better chance of receiving financial aid if you fill out the form as soon as it becomes available as some aid is first come, first served.
- Do I need to submit a FAFSA every year?
Yes. You must submit the FAFSA for each school year that you want to receive financial aid. But once you’ve submitted it the first time, you can do a FAFSA renewal in subsequent years. Use your FSA ID to access your original FAFSA.
- How do I list colleges on FAFSA?
While completing the FAFSA, you’ll be asked to enter FAFSA school codes for up to 10 schools where you plan to apply, usually in order of preference.
If you haven’t decided where you’re applying, list the schools you think are possibilities. If you change your mind, you can always update your FAFSA later.
- How do I link FAFSA to IRS?
When you reach the financial information section of the FAFSA, click “Link to IRS” to automatically prefill the form with your tax information.
- What happens after FAFSA is submitted?
If your application is complete, you’ll receive an e-mail with a link to an online copy of your Student Aid Report (SAR), which is a summary of the FAFSA data you submitted, in as little as 3 to 5 days.
Using that information on your student aid report, the schools will then determine your financial need and prepare a financial aid award package for you.
- How do I contact FAFSA for help?
If you need help completing the FAFSA, you can contact the FAFSA customer service number: 1-800-433-3243 or ask for help online by hitting the “Live Help” button when you are filling out your actual FAFSA application.
In addition, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) cosponsors College Goal Sunday that provides free, on-site professional help completing the FAFSA at workshops held at locations throughout the nation.
To make sure you have what you need when you apply/renew, use the FAFSA on the Web Worksheet which includes a preview of the questions in the same order as they will appear in the online application.