The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is a form allowing current and entering college students to apply for federal financial aid, including Pell grants, Stafford loans, PLUS loans, and work-study programs. While you will need to obtain the appropriate financial documents, completing the FAFSA is a relatively straightforward process and definitely worth it if you are looking for help in financing your education. You can complete the FAFSA process by following these simple steps:
1. Determine your dependency status. FAFSA wants to know if you are a dependent to determine if your parent’s financial information is required. If you’re not sure, check FAFSA’s Dependency Status Worksheet.
2. Obtain a FAFSA on the Web Worksheet. Note that this worksheet is meant to help your calculations in a hard-copy form. You do not mail this in. Instead, you will enter the numbers from this sheet into your online application.
3. Search for school codes. You will need to select a code for each school to which you are applying.
4. Apply for a PIN. A PIN is a four-digit number used in combination with your personal information that is assigned to you and your parents in completing the FAFSA form. The security of this number is important because it serves an electronic signature, allowing you to agree to legally binding documents.
5. Check application deadlines. The FAFSA deadline for your schools may be different than the federal processing deadline. Be sure to check every deadline so you don’t miss out on financial aid.
6. Fill out the online FAFSA form. Using your completed FAFSA on the Web Worksheet, complete the official FAFSA form online.
7. Sign with your PIN. Use the number emailed to you by FAFSA to complete your application. You don’t have to use a PIN, but it is the easiest and fastest way to completing an authentic application. If you do not receive a confirmation number after submitting your electronic signature, Federal Student Aid has not received it.
8. Check status. If you used a PIN to sign your application, you should check on your FAFSA status approximately one week after submittal. If you printed, signed, and mailed a signature page, you should check 2-3 weeks after submittal.
9. Make corrections, add or delete a school. You can make corrections easily and quickly to a processed FAFSA by using your PIN. Simply sign and complete and online correction form.
10. View and print Student Aid Report (SAR). Your SAR is a report that indicates the quantity of financial aid available to you. You cannot access your SAR until your PIN information has been verified by the Social Security Administration, which will take anywhere from 1-3 days.
- For more information, check out the FAFSA Web site.