Oct 01, 2019
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step in the financial aid process for college. You use the FAFSA form to apply for federal student aid, such as grants, work-study, and loans. In addition, most states and colleges use information from the FAFSA form to award nonfederal aid. Today is the first day you can begin the process at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Check with your high school guidance counselor or a financial aid administrator at your college about state and college sources of student aid and deadlines.
To complete the FAFSA Form, you will need your:
- Social Security Number
- Alien Registration Number (if you are not a U.S. citizen)
- 2018 federal income tax returns, W-2s, and other records of money earned. (Note: You may be able to transfer your federal tax return information into your FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. See below)
- Bank statements and records of investments (if applicable)
- Records of untaxed income (if applicable)
- FSA ID to sign electronically. To create one, go to Studentaid.gov.
- If you are a dependent student, then you will also need most of the above information for your parent(s).
To automatically transfer your tax information using the Internal Revenue Service Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT):
- The IRS DRT automatically transfers tax information into the FAFSA form. Be sure to consider this option if it is offered to you. (If you got an extension on filing your taxes and did not file until September or October, find out when your tax return information will likely be available using the IRS DRT.)
- The IRS DRT takes you to the IRS website, where you will need to provide your name and other information exactly as you provided it on your tax return. Some information will be prepopulated from your FAFSA form.
- At the IRS site, you will see a page that indicates that your tax information is available. (For security and privacy protections, you will not see the actual information.) You can choose to import your information into the FAFSA form, or you can cancel your request and return to the FAFSA site.
- If you choose to import your information into the FAFSA form, you will find that on the FAFSA site, instead of your tax information being displayed, you will see “Transferred from the IRS" in the appropriate fields. You will not be able to make changes to those answers.
Here are a few technical tips from FAFSA:
- Customers who are using an Apple device (mobile and/or desktop) may encounter errors on some FAFSA fields if the “smart punctuation” feature is enabled. This feature changes apostrophes and quotation marks to invalid characters that the FAFSA form cannot recognize. Learn about solutions for this error. https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/help/smart-punctuation
- Check out the myStudentAid app for iOS and Android. https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/about/announcements/fafsa-mobile-options
- To get the best experience, make sure your browser’s pop-up blocker allows pop-ups from fafsa.ed.gov before logging in to the FAFSA form.
It is recommended you file the FAFSA for each year of college, even if you were not awarded financial aid in the prior year.