Completing the FAFSA

What is the FAFSA?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the form that the federal government, states, colleges and other organizations use to award financial aid.  Submitting it is your key to accessing grants, scholarships, work-study programs and federal student loans.

Completing the FAFSA is the first step for anyone making college plans, and when you're prepared submitting is quick and easy. 

Follow the steps below to help you prepare for and submit your FAFSA.  

Step 1: Get Your FSA ID

  • The first step in filling out the FAFSA is creating your Federal Aid Student ID (FSA ID).  This will allow you to fill out the form online and access information about your financial aid.
  • If you’re a dependent student, your parent or guardian will need his or her own FSA ID.
  • Visit fsaid.ed.gov to get an FSA ID.  Also Available in: Spanish
This video will show you the steps to quickly create your FSA ID

Step 2: Gather This Information

This checklist will prepare you to fill out the FAFSA

If you are a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen and dependent student

  • Your Social Security card.
  • If you’re not a US citizen, your Permanent Alien Registration Number
  • Your driver's license (if you have one).
  • Your 2020 W-2 forms.
  • Your 2020 federal and state income tax return and all schedules.
  • Your 2020 untaxed income records (child support for any of student's children, interest income, Veterans non-education benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, other money received or paid on your behalf).
  • Your current bank statements.
  • Your FSA ID.
  • Your email address.
  • Your parent’s social security number, if applicable.
  • Your parent's birthdate.
  • Your parents' federal and state income tax returns and all schedules.
  • If applicable, your parent’s date of divorce or separation (month/year).
  • Your parents' 2020 W-2 forms.
  • Your parents' bank statements.
  • Your parents' untaxed income records (untaxed portion of pension benefits, untaxed payments to tax deferred pensions and retirement savings, untaxed portion of IRA distributions, workers’ compensation or disability benefits)
  • Your parents' current business and investment records.
  • Your parent’s FSA ID.
  • Your parent’s email address.

If you are a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen and independent student 

  • Your Social Security card.
  • Your driver's license (if you have one).
  • Your 2020 W-2 forms.
  • Your 2020 federal income tax return.
  • Your 2020 untaxed income records.
  • Your current bank statements.

How Do I Know if I am a Dependent or Independent Student? 

Step 3: Get Started!

  • Visit http://www.fafsa.ed.gov to start the FAFSA.
  • To speed up your application process and avoid mistakes, transfer your 2020 federal tax return information directly into your FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. 
  • If you choose not to, you may use the materials you gathered in Step 2 to answer the questions.
  • Submit!

IMPORTANT:  Are you planning to attend a New York State College?  Complete the NYS Application for TAP (Tuition Assistance Program) directly from the FAFSA! If you include a college in New York on your FAFSA, start your NYS TAP application use the link on the confirmation page of your FAFSA to complete your TAP application.

Don't make these common mistakes when filling out your FAFSA.

What Happens Next

Filled out the FAFSA and wondering what happens next?  Check out this video to learn what to expect after completing the FAFSA.

Renew Your FAFSA Every Year of College 

Remember, you need to complete the FAFSA not just once, but every year you plan to attend school. If you filled out a FAFSA the year before, you can use the renewal FAFSA. 

Mark Your Calendar! 

The FAFSA opens on October 1.