How To: FAFSA Applications

By Daylin Delgado

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid ( FAFSA) is used to determine students’ eligibility for financial aid. The form is prepared annually for college students and high school students looking into college; it provides aid based on demographic and financial information. The FAFSA forms are offered online at FAFSA.ed.gov, on paper, or by telephone.

Before the online application was offered, the paper application took seven to ten days to process after it was mailed. Now, the online process takes about three to five days upon submission. The online application is quick, efficient and ensures that the application arrives to its destination.

Essential information required for completing the FAFSA includes income tax returns. It’s beneficial for students to complete tax returns before completing their FAFSA forms. Students can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool which transfers data from income tax returns to their forms once their tax returns are filed.

However, if colleges where students want to apply have early financial aid application deadlines, the FAFSA application can be completed without the income tax return information. On the application, students can write an estimate of the income, then can go back later and update the information.

The next step is creating a creating a FSA ID. The FSA ID is a way for federal student aid programs to identify applicants. Account setup requires an independent email and a password from the applicant. The applicant’s parents also need to create their own individual account with a separate email.

Certain documents will be needed to provide information on the application. Students can look for a list of the necessary documents on the College Board website. For students dependent of their parents, much of the same information is required from the parents.

As soon as all the necessary documents are in possession and a FAS ID has been created, students are ready to go online to fafsa.ed.gov and begin to fill out an application. It is important for students to pay attention to the deadlines of their priority colleges; sometimes colleges have earlier deadlines than the federal financial aid programs.

The online program allows applicants to check the information they provided before submitting the form. If all the information is correct, students can submit the form for evaluation. After the information has been federally evaluated, students will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) that highlights any possible errors in need of correction.

The FAFSA forms may seem like an intimidating and long process, but students can easily fill them out online. There are several sources for students to use for assistance: the College Board website and studentaid.ed.gov. Once the forms are completed, college-bound students can move onto the next thing on their to-do list.

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