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FAFSA 101

Important!  Attention Students!  FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid.  The application for federal aid is now and always has been free. If you are on a website that asks for payment to file the FAFSA exit that site immediately and go to www.fafsa.ed.gov

The first step to receiving Federal Financial Aid, which includes the Pell Grant, Stafford Loans, the FSEOG Grant, etc. is filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). 

Step One

Log onto www.pin.ed.gov to apply for a pin number so that you can sign your FAFSA electronically. Once there click on the “Apply Now” link and follow the instructions. If you are a dependent student and are required to include your parent’s information on your FAFSA they will need to apply for a pin number also.

Tip: If you have applied for a pin number previously and cannot remember it you can go to this same website and click on “Request Duplicate PIN” and follow the instructions.

Step Two

Gather the information needed to fill out the FAFSA.  You will need your Federal tax returns, your parents’ Federal tax returns (if you are a dependent student), your Social Security number, address, schools you wish to send your FAFSA to, your PIN number, and household information.

Tip: Starting in 2012-2013 the FAFSA is asking that students and parents who file taxes use the new IRS Data Retrieval Option.  Once you have filed your taxes electronically you must 2-3 weeks for the information to be available via this option.  If you mail in your tax return you must at least 6 weeks before your tax information will be available via this option.  Using this option will GREATLY reduce your risk of being chosen for the verification process.

Tip:  Make sure that you are entering the correct Social Security numbers for everyone involved.  Giving an incorrect Social Security number can result in the rejection of your FAFSA and considerable time delays.

Step Three

Go to www.fafsa.ed.gov to submit your financial aid application. Once there click on “Start Here.” Then follow the instructions. Make sure that you are reading the instructions carefully and inputting the correct information in the correct boxes. Double check each entry. Once you get to the end you will be asked to “sign” your application. You can do so by entering your PIN number in the appropriate box. If your parents’ signature is needed they can do so by entering their PIN number(s). After signing the FAFSA click submit and wait for confirmation that your application has been submitted.

Tip: You must choose the FAFSA application for the correct aid year. If you are unsure which one you need to fill out consult a financial aid representative at the college you plan to attend.

Step Four

Contact the financial aid office at the campus you wish to attend about 3-5 business days after you have submitted your FAFSA to make sure we have received your application and to determine if you have been selected for verification.  If you are selected for verification, additional documents will be needed.  You will receive a Student Aid Report via email at the email address your provide on the FAFSA.  This report will tell you what your expected family contribution is and if you have been chosen for verification.

Tip: If there is an asterisk (*) next to your expected family contribution then you have been chosen for verification.

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Page last updated: May 21, 2013