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How do I start filling out a FAFSA Form and what documents do I need to fill it?

Ready to start filling the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Form and sending in your application? Here’s how to do it right.

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The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form is used by the US Department of Education, states and colleges, to determine your eligibility to financial aid—including grants, state aid, institutional aid, work-study awards, federal student loans and merit scholarships. 

Every state has their FAFSA deadline, missing the state deadline does not affect your eligibility for federal financial aid. 

Fortunately, this year’s application is more streamlined and easier to complete as there are fewer questions to answer compared to previous years

How to fill out a FAFSA Form

Here is a comprehensive guide on how to fill out the FAFSA form. 

Create a Federal Student Aid ID

To complete the FAFSA application online, you must set up a student aid account and get a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID. You will be required to submit your Social Security Number (SSN), or any proof of identification if you are an eligible non-citizen. 

Verifying your student aid account takes 1–3 days, so ensure you create your account several days before your application day. 

Both students and parents (for dependent students) can create an account on the student aid website and get an FSA ID. 

Have all the necessary financial documents ready before filling a FAFSA form

Who has to submit financial documents depends on your dependency status. Typically, dependent students are expected to submit their financial information and their parents’ information. Students under 24 years of age fall under this category

Independent students—those who are 24 years and older, married, or have children—do not need to submit their parent’s financial information. 

Some of the documents you will need to submit include: 

  • Federal income tax returns (if filed) from the previous year—that is, tax return for the 2024-25 school year.  You’ll also need Form W-2 in case you need to manually enter your income information into the online form. 
  • Bank and asset statements showing the most recent asset information including checking, savings, real estate that is not your primary home, non-retirement investment records, net worth records for a business or farm, parent-owned college funds for the student, and student accounts such as UTMA or UGMA accounts.

Fill the FAFSA application form 

  • Visit the Student Aid FSA website.
  • Click on the Start New Form button to start a new application. If you’re returning to complete an old application, click on Access Existing Form. 
  • Choose the correct FAFSA year—for example, choose 2024 for the 2024-25 form. 
  • Go ahead and complete each section of your form. 
  • List your schools of interest. You are allowed to pick up to 20 schools, so go ahead and select any school of interest even if you have not applied or been accepted. 

Review your application to correct any errors 

Both students and parents will have a chance to review their information before signing and submitting a completed FAFSA form. Proofread all your information and remove any extra zeros on your asset amounts., 

Check to be sure you have not reported the home equity value of your family’s primary home or any retirement account balance. Money kept for retirement and the value of your family home do not need to be reported. 

Ideally, FAFSA is a straightforward process that should not take a lot of time. However, not everyone’s FAFSA application is seamless. To ensure that yours is as smooth as possible, start your application process early. Crosscheck every information you submit to be sure there are mistakes that can delay your application processing or affect your aid eligibility.

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