Filling Out the FAFSA: What You Need To Know

First things first. Do you know what the FAFSA is? FAFSA is short for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is a form created to help colleges and universities get an idea of your family’s financial standing. From there, you find out if you’re eligible for federal, state, and school-sponsored financial aid. Every bit helps. Especially when the aid goes toward tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and other expenses. Even if you don’t think you qualify, it’s a good idea to fill out the FAFSA just in case. Here are some things you need to know.

What You Will Need

  • Social security number
  • Driver’s license
  • Federal income tax return – For the 2023-24 FAFSA, you will report your 2021 income.
  • Records of untaxed income – Such as child support, interest income, and veteran’s non-education benefits.
  • Records of your assets aka money – This includes stocks, bonds, and real estate.
    • TIP! You don’t need to report things such as retirement accounts, life insurance policies, home equity, or personal possessions. These are unnecessary assets that could reduce your aid if they are factored into the equation.
  • FSA ID – This is your account username and password that will allow you to complete and update your FAFSA.
  • List of school(s) you want to attend – Even if you’re just considering a school, add them to the list. Even if you haven’t applied or been accepted! If you wait to add a school, you might miss out on aid.

Note: If you are a dependent, you will need a parent or guardian to file for the FAFSA. They will need everything on this list before filling out the FASFA.


1. Always complete the FAFSA – Over 6,000 schools use this information to hand out aid. Even if you don’t think you need it or qualify for it, always fill it out. It’s a timely process that is worth it in the end if you receive financial aid.

2. Beware of Deadlines – You can start filing as soon as October until June. Yet, we recommend filing it sooner than later, usually as close to January as possible. The earlier you file, the sooner you’ll receive your aid package. And if your application is on top of the stack, more aid will be available to you. If you wait until the deadline in June, you might not receive much of an aid package.

Note: States often have a different deadline you need to meet to be eligible for their aid. You can find all the deadline information you need here.

3. Use estimates – Especially if you’re filing as soon as possible, you might not have all the exact figures available to you at that time. You can always go back and update the form.

4. Correct your FAFSA – First, make sure the original filing isn’t being processed. If it is, wait until you receive your Student Aid Report (SAR), then go back into the FAFSA and resubmit it with the correct information. Just make sure you correct it before the state and federal deadlines.

The FAFSA is the best way to get the most financial aid from every avenue available to you. With these tips, you’ll get the most out of your FAFSA and college/university experience. To learn more about the FAFSA, visit their website.