Tips on Filling out the FAFSA

If you are getting ready for the college application process, filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form may seem a little daunting. With these tips and a dollop of patience, you can be well on your way to affordable education. Here are some of the best tips on how to successfully complete your FAFSA application.

If you are still considering your college choices, you can use the FAFSA calculator to see how much aid you would be eligible for. This can help you to see which schools you can afford. Get the FAFSA calculator here:

It’s easy online

You can apply online between January 1 and June 30. You can fill out your FAFSA online here:

You can start by getting a PIN number which you will need to complete the application. This PIN is your personal identification and will also be used if you want to sign a loan contract, if you want to access your FAFSA information online and access several other US Department of Education websites.

When you are ready to apply for your PIN, visit the Federal Student Aid PIN website here:

Once your have applied for your PIN, you can complete your FAFSA application. After three days, the information you provided will be verified by the SSA and then you can use it on other websites. You do not have to wait for verification to complete the FAFSA. Do not share your PIN number with anyone else to avoid identity theft.

Gather all the necessary documentation

You will need a number of documents in order to complete your FAFSA application. Ensure that you have all these documents and your PIN number before you start the application process.

  • Your Social Security number
  • Your parents’ Social Security numbers
  • Your driver’s license
  • Your Alien Registration Number if you are not a U.S. citizen
  • Federal tax information or tax returns including IRS W-2 information, for you (and your spouse, if you are married), and for your parents if you are a dependent student:
  1. IRS 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ
  2. Foreign tax return and/or
  3. Tax return for Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Marshall Islands, the Federal States of Micronesia, or Palau
  • Records of your untaxed income, such as child support received, interest income, and veterans noneducation benefits, for you, and for your parents if you are a dependent student
  • Information on cash; savings and checking account balances; investments, including stocks and bonds and real estate but not including the home in which you live; and business and farm assets for you, and for your parents if you are a dependent student

If you are struggling with the tax information section of your FAFSA, get help here:

If you are unable to enter all your parent’s information, then you can indicate special circumstances which will allow you to complete the application without this data.

If your parents don’t have a social security number, you can use all zeroes on the application where it asks for that information.

Which Schools?

Of course you have not had your college applications approved and so you can list as many as 10 potential schools. Start with a state school as some states require this in order for you to qualify for state aid. After the first state school you list, you may list your other school choices in whichever order you prefer.

The schools you list will automatically receive your FAFSA information.

Once your application is complete, a confirmation page will show that your application will be processed.

If you need further information on filling out the FAFSA, watch the video here:

Pic by Song Nguyen