WHEN SHOULD I FILL OUT THE FAFSA? Complete the FAFSA as close to the October 1 start date as possible every year to ensure you receive the maximum amount of aid. In some states, financial aid is disbursed on a rolling basis. That means it’s first come, first served, so find out your state’s FAFSA deadline. HOW DO I FILL OUT THE FAFSA? To submit the FAFSA electronically, use the form on the Federal Student Aid website. Before you can submit, you’ll need an FSA ID. It’s a username and password used to sign in to federal student aid websites. You’ll also need the FSA ID to electronically sign the FAFSA and promissory notes. 6 Alternatively, you can submit the FAFSA by mail. Download and fill out a PDF copy or request a paper copy by calling 1-800-433-3243. WHAT DOCUMENTS DO I NEED TO FILE THE FAFSA? Before you fill out the FAFSA, get all documents together to make the process easier. U.S. citizens typically will need their Social Security number, driver’s license number and tax and income records. Use this FAFSA checklist to determine exactly what you’ll need. Families should use their “prior-prior year” tax information to complete the FAFSA instead of the prior year’s tax information. In other words, use 2021 tax information to complete the 2023-24 form. This allows you to file the FAFSA before filing your previous year’s taxes. IN THE PROCESS AM I AN INDEPENDENT OR DEPENDENT STUDENT? You’re considered an independent student if you answer “yes” to any of the dependency status questions on the student aid website. On the 2023-24 form, for example, if you were born before January 1, 2000, you are considered an independent student. You’re also considered independent if you are married, a veteran, homeless, enrolled in a graduate program, or you provide a certain amount of support to dependents or children. 7 8
Take care to choose the correct dependency status because it can impact how much aid you receive.
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