Financial aid can save you a lot of money on college tuition, but you’ll have to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to qualify. With the June 30 deadline for the 2020-2021 school year quickly approaching, it’s time to gather the documentation needed to fill out the form.
The FAFSA will require:
- Your Social Security number
- Alien Registration number, if you’re not a U.S. citizen
- Your federal income tax returns, W-2s and other proof of income earned
- Bank statements and records of investments, if you have any
- Records of untaxed income, if applicable
- A Federal Student Aid ID to be signed electronically.
If you have already filed taxes, you may be able to transfer your federal tax return information into your FAFSA directly using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, which can be found here.
The FSA ID allows students and parents to identify themselves electronically in order to access the federal student aid website. You aren’t required to have an FSA ID to complete and submit a FAFSA form, but it’s the fastest way to get things done — and it’s the only way to access or correct your information online or pre-fill your form with information from last year, which can be a major timesaver. You can create an FSA ID here.
FAFSA forms must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. CT on June 30. Any corrections or updates must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. CT on September 11.
Filling out the FAFSA can be confusing and time-consuming. The paper version has more than 100 questions, making it twice as long as the standard federal income tax form, according to U.S. News & World Report. The online FAFSA is a more user-friendly process that uses predictive auto-fill to help you get through it faster.
Note that if you are a dependent student — that is, your parents claim you on their tax returns — you will need all of the above information for your parents as well. This can make completion time longer.
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