We’ve managed to make the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process a lot easier by creating a 10 step guide just for you! You have a few more days to submit before the April 1 priority deadline, and if you’ve already submitted your FAFSA, we’ll walk you through what happens next.
Step 1 FAFSA ID: The very first step to completing the FAFSA is creating an ID that will enable you to fill out the application online and access your information.
Step 2 Documentation: The application form requires particular documentation from yourself, and if you are a dependent, your parent or guardian (find out whether you’re a dependent student here). This information includes social security number, federal income tax returns, W-2 forms and records of any untaxed income. Bank statements are also required, along with records of investments. Additionally, non-US citizens are required to provide their Alien Registration number.
Step 3 IRS Data Retrieval: In order to speed up the application process, use the IRS data retrieval tool to transfer your federal tax return information directly into your FAFSA.
Step 4 FAFSA School Codes: This section of the application requires you to list up to 10 colleges you wish to apply for. The school codes can be found on the Federal Student Aid website. The chosen schools will automatically receive your FAFSA results electronically.
Step 5 Additional Financial Aid: Some states and colleges require additional financial aid applications. Some colleges require their own scholarship/grant application, or sometimes a standardized form called the CSS/Financial Aid Profile.
Step 6 Student Aid Report: The student aid report is a summary of the information that you provided on the FAFSA. This will be emailed between 3 days and 3 weeks after you submit the FAFSA. The report will also include your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which is an estimate of the amount your family can contribute towards your college education. Colleges use this information to calculate your eligibility for need-based aid.
Step 7 Verification Process: Some schools require you to verify your information by submitting supporting documents. You will either be contacted by the school’s financial aid office or it may appear on your student aid report.
Step 8 Financial Aid Award Package: Once you receive your college acceptance letters, you’ll receive a financial aid reward letter from each school. This letter will include need-based and non-need-based federal and state aid.
Step 9 The Opportunity to Appeal: If you feel that your FAFSA does not reflect a change in your financial situation, you are given the opportunity to appeal with your college’s financial aid office.
Step 10 Renew: For each school year, you’ll have to submit the FAFSA. Once you’ve submitted the FAFSA the first time, you have the option to fill out a renewal FAFSA which automatically fills in certain questions with information from previous forms. However, if your financial situation has changed, you can start the application again.
Don’t forget to keep track of the deadlines for the federal FAFSA, the state and all of the schools you are applying for.