The 2019-20 FAFSA is now available!
FAFSA stands for "Free Application for Federal Student Aid." Filling out the FAFSA is a necessary step to qualify for government funds to help pay for college.
You don't have to do this alone!! We had the FAFSA Fiesta back in October, but we still have help available!
Please see your counselor to get stamped for Advisory! We also have a representative from "Be a Leader" here every week to help students complete the FAFSA.
What do I need to bring to complete the FAFSA?
- Social Security numbers for both you and your parent
- Personal email addresses (that you can log in to) for both you and your parent
- 2017 tax forms
- Parent information (like birth dates, marital/divorce dates)
- Any pertinent financial information (investments, child support, assets, other sources of income)
What are the steps in completing the FAFSA?
- The first step in applying for the FAFSA is setting up an "FSA ID." Both the student AND parent should create an FSA ID. You will need a personal email address AND your social security number to create an FSA ID. The FSA ID and password will enable you and your parents to digitally sign the FAFSA, which allows for processing within a few weeks, rather than many many months! You will use your FSA ID every year that you complete the FAFSA, so it is critical that you and your parent save it.
- You must verify who you are by checking your email to verify your FSA ID. There will be a unique code in your email. Enter that code where indicated. Again, both you AND your parent need to complete this step.
- Now that you have an FSA and are verified, you can start filling out the FAFSA!
- Student Profile: Enter your information accurately -- this means no nick-names or shortened last names. Your FAFSA must be filed with your full LEGAL name.
- Colleges: Enter the school(s) you would like to send your FAFSA results to! Use the search tool to find the correct school. *Remember -- sending your FAFSA results to a school is NOT the same as applying for admission. If you want schools to look at your FAFSA, you must also apply to attend there!
- Dependency and Parent Demographics: you'll answer a series of questions to determine your dependency status, and most likley be asked to provide information about your parents. (This is where they enter their social security numbers (if married) and marital information.)
- Income: Now you are in the heart of the FAFSA. You will need to provide your parent's income information from their 2017 taxes. If you have a unique situation or are not sure how to report your parent's income, please talk to your counselor -- they can give you resources and guidance, depending on what your situation is.
- When you get to the end of the FAFSA, there will be an option to "sign" the FAFSA by using your FSA ID log-in. If you and your parent have an FSA ID, complete this step, and you are done! Your results will be processed in just a few weeks! If your parent is not able to apply for an FSA ID, there will be an option to "print a signature page." Your parent will physically sign it, and you will mail the form to FAFSA. *Only use a signature page if absolutely necessary -- the processing time for applications waiting on a signature page can be months, rather than weeks.
Ok, FAFSA is filed, what now?
- The first thing you will receive after completing the FAFSA is a tentative "SAR" -- student aid report. This report will tell you what your level of need is, and what contribution (if any) is expected from your parents. If family contribution is "zero" -- that means you qualify for student aid (aid can be in the form of a pell grant, work-study and student loans).
- After you successfully file the FAFSA (and complete the application to your schools of choice), you will wait for your "award package" from your schools. However, sometimes, depending on the information you provide on the FAFSA, your schools may need to "verify" your parent's income. You will get a notice from your school that you are in "verification status" and you must complete some steps (usually submit tax transcripts) to move forward in the process. Don't worry if this happens -- your counselors are familiar with this and can help you step-by-step.
Unique situations you may have questions about:
Q: What if my parents live out of the country, and I live here with other family?
A: In the eyes of the FAFSA, your parents are always your parents. Unless someone else has LEGALLY adopted you or guardianship assigned by a court (very different situation), you will still use your parents' income. Usually, students in this situation are living with a family member, and parents have assigned temporary academic/medical guardianship to that family member or friend. For example, if your parents live in Mexico, you would put "zeros" for their social security numbers and approximate their annual income (conversion from pesos to dollars can be done on Google very easily). You will likely be selected for verification, but your counselor or the community liaison can write a letter explaining your living situation. Definitely run the scenario by your counselor, or make an appointment at College Depot for expert help on the FAFSA.
Q: What if my parents don't file taxes?
A: This situation can get tricky. While we definitely understand why some parents make the decision not to file, they will need to file in order for you to complete the FAFSA and be eligible for aid. If your parent does not have a social security number or a Registration ID, they can apply for an "Individual Tax ID" and use that number to file taxes. You can definitely use estimated income on the FAFSA application, but if you are selected for verification, your parent will need a tax ID and 2017 tax transcripts to move forward. There are tax preparation experts in the valley who will help families apply late -- the deadline is December, so please don't wait if they need to file. See you counselor for more information.
Q: I am a DACA student, can I fill out the FAFSA?
A: Unfortunately, DACA and Non-Resident students are not eligible for Federal Student Aid. However, DACA students with a work authorization card can file the FAFSA to obtain an SAR if they need to show financial need. Additionally, there are myriad scholarships that are not dependent on being a citizen. College Depot is a great resource to find scholarships available for DACA students. As you scroll through the hundreds of scholarships, note the ones that say "DACA eligible."