The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the form you need to fill out to get any financial aid from the federal government to help pay for college. Each year, over 13 million students who file the FAFSA get more than $120 billion in financial aid from the U.S. Department of Education.
Lots of states and colleges also use the FAFSA to determine which students get financial aid—and how much they’ll get.
The FAFSA asks for information about you and your family’s finances, including tax returns, so you may need your parents’ help to complete it.
- Submitting the FAFSA is the most important thing you can do if you want financial aid (federal and/or state).
- The FAFSA is free—you don’t need to pay anyone to prepare it for you.
- The FAFSA can be submitted throughout the academic year; however, you are highly encouraged to submit the FAFSA prior to the start of each academic year in which you want to get aid. If you plan to apply for aid throughout college, you’ll need to fill out the FAFSA each year. FAFSA application opens on Oct 1st.
- Be sure to use a permanent email address on the form, not your high school email, so you can use your FAFSA account throughout college.
The FSA ID is a username and password you use to log in to U.S. Department of Education (ED) online systems. The FSA ID is your legal signature and should be created by you.
You will use your FSA ID every year you fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid form and for the lifetime of your federal student loans.
Step 1. Visit FSAID.ed.gov to create an FSA ID.
Step 2. Enter your Social Security number, full legal name, and date of birth.
Step 3. Create a memorable username and password, and complete challenge questions and answers so you can retrieve your account information if you forget it.
Step 4. Provide your email address and your mobile phone number when you make your FSA ID. This will make it easier to log in to ED online systems and allow additional account recovery options. If your parent is creating his or her new FSA ID, he/she will need to also provide his/her own email address and mobile phone number.
Do not use an email address with an ending in (e.g. “.edu,” “.k12,” “.pvt,” “.tec,” or “.cc”) as some of these addresses may be associated with your high school or community college and access can be lost after graduation or transfer. You may want to create a personal email address with Yahoo or Google.
Step 5. Take note of your newly created username, password and email address used.
Note: A Social Security number, email address, and mobile phone number can only be associated with one FSA ID. If you share an email address with someone else, then only one of you will be able to use that email address to create an FSA ID.
Tips on creating the FSA ID:
Legal parent and student each need their own FSA ID
Each will need their SSN
Use the “show text” feature
Don’t use your high school email
Step 1. Go to FAFSA at studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa
Step 2. Select New or Returning user option (follow the instructions carefully).
Step 3. Log into FAFSA using your FSA ID username and password (from Step A above).
Step 4. Select the proper FAFSA Year.
Step 5. Fill out your student demographics section.
Step 6. List the schools to which you want your FAFSA information be sent to. AHC school code is 001111.
Step 7. Answer all of the dependency status questions.
Step 8. If you are considered a dependent student, fill out your parents’ information.
Step 9. Supply your parent’s financial information.
Step 10. Supply your own financial information.
Step 11. Verify all your information for accuracy.
Step 12. If all of your and your parents’ information is correct, e-sign and submit your FAFSA.
Step 13. If you are not able to e-sign your FAFSA, select the paper signature option and print, sign and mail your signature(s) page to the provided address.
Step 14. Print and/or save your submission confirmation page, if done successfully you will be given an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) number.
Note: For Steps 5-10, you will need:
Your and your parent’s FSA ID to create the FAFSA application
Driver's license, if you have one (optional)
Your and your parent’s social security cards or numbers (Alien registration number, if applicable)
2020 income & tax record information from you and your parents (if applicable)
Your and/or your parents’ untaxed income (child support payments, payments to/from retirement accounts, combat pay, short-term disability, or worker’s compensation, etc.)
Records of your and/or your parents’ Assets
List of colleges you are interested in attending
Note to Parents:
Remember that the FAFSA form is the student’s application. When the FAFSA form says “you” or “your,” it’s referring to the student. Pay attention to whether you’re being asked for student or parent information. When in doubt, the banner on the left side will indicate whether you’re on a student or parent page.
After you submit your FAFSA form online or on the myStudentAid mobile app, you can check its status immediately. (Note: Only the student can check the status, because the FSA ID username and password are required to log in.) Here’s how:
- Go to fafsa.gov or the myStudentAid mobile app and log in with your FSA ID username and password.
- The status of your application will be one of the following.
- Processing: Your application is still processing. It typically takes three to five days, plus one additional business day to be made available to the schools you listed on the form.
- Processed Successfully: Your application was processed successfully. No further action is needed.
- Missing Signatures: Your application is missing the required signature(s).
- Action Required: Your application requires further action. Contact your school to resolve the issue.
If you submitted a paper FAFSA form, you can check its status after it has been processed (roughly 7–10 days from the date mailed).