FAFSA (Federal Pell Grant Money)
Must complete each year after December 1st
Creating an Account
We strongly recommend you create your account before starting your FAFSA form. Your account username and password combination, called your FSA ID, gives you access to certain information online and allows you to sign your FAFSA® form and promissory notes electronically. While you can get your FSA ID as you’re completing the FAFSA form online, getting it ahead of time and using it to fill out the FAFSA form on fafsa.gov cuts down on errors and delays. Find out how to get an FSA ID and what to do if you forget your FSA ID.
Important note: If you’re a , one of your parents whose information is reported on the will also need an FSA ID so that your parent can sign your application electronically. If your parent doesn’t have a Social Security number (SSN), your parent won’t be able to create an FSA ID (which requires an SSN). This means you’ll have to select the option to print a signature page when you get to the end of your FAFSA form on fafsa.gov.
Creating your FSA ID before you begin the FAFSA® form only takes a few minutes and could prevent processing delays.
Tip: Use your FSA ID to start your FAFSA form.
When you create your FSA ID, be careful to enter your name and Social Security number exactly as they appear on your Social Security card. Then, if you go to fafsa.gov to start your application and indicate that you are the student, you will be given the option to enter your FSA ID or to enter your “identifiers” (your name, date of birth, and SSN).
If you log in with your FSA ID, certain information (including your name, Social Security number, and date of birth) will be automatically loaded into your application. This will prevent you from running into a common error that occurs when your verified FSA ID information doesn’t match the information on your FAFSA form. Additionally, you won’t have to provide your FSA ID again to sign your FAFSA form electronically or to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) if you’re eligible.
The student is the one applying for financial aid, so be sure it’s the student entering their FSA ID in the “I am a student and want to access the FAFSA form” section. Do not start the FAFSA form by supplying the parent’s FSA ID in the student role.
Gathering the Documents Needed to Apply
The FAFSA questions ask for information about you (your name, date of birth, address, etc.) and about your financial situation. Depending on your circumstances (for instance, whether you’re a U.S. citizen or what tax form you used), you might need the following information or documents as you fill out the FAFSA application:
Keep these records! You may need them again. Do not mail these supporting records to us.
Try This Resource
2023–24 FAFSA on the Web Worksheet—Provides a preview of the questions students and parents may be asked while completing the FAFSA form.
One thing you don’t need for the FAFSA® form is money! The FAFSA form is FREE, so if a website asks you to pay to fill it out, you’re not dealing with the official FAFSA site. Remember, this is a government application, so it’s on a .gov website.
If you need help filling out the FAFSA form, use these free tools:
Starting Your FAFSA® Form and Providing Your Basic Personal Information
The FAFSA form is available on Oct. 1 for the next school year. We encourage you to fill it out as soon as possible on or after Oct. 1 to meet FAFSA federal, state, and school deadlines.
FAFSA® Filing Options
You may choose any of these methods to file a FAFSA form:
If you are starting the application for the first time on fafsa.gov, select “Start Here.” Your name and Social Security number must match those on your Social Security card. Follow this tip to avoid getting a notice that your information doesn’t match the Social Security Administration’s records (or your FSA ID account).
Your registration status with Selective Service no longer affects your eligibility to receive federal student aid. For general information about registering, call Selective Service toll-free at 1-888-655-1825 or visit sss.gov.
The following are tips for filling out the form online:
If you filled out a FAFSA form last year and want to renew it, select “Log In” on the FAFSA home page, select “I am the student and want to access the FAFSA form,” enter your FSA ID, and be sure to select “Renew my FAFSA Form” once given the option. That way, many of the (nonfinancial) questions will be prefilled for you. Just be sure to update any information that has changed since last year, including the financial questions.
Only the student can start a FAFSA renewal using their FSA ID. If you’re a dependent student and your parent helps you with your FAFSA form, you should start the FAFSA renewal, save it, and give the save key to your parent so they can access your FAFSA form.
Listing Colleges and/or Career Schools
While completing the FAFSA form, you must list at least one school to receive your information. The schools you list will use your FAFSA information to determine the types and amounts of aid you may receive. Use the Federal School Code Search to find the colleges you’re interested in including on your FAFSA form.
For federal student aid purposes, the order of schools for your college list does not matter. However, to be considered for , some states require you to list schools in a particular order (for instance, you might need to list a state school first). Find out whether your state has a requirement for the order in which you list schools on your FAFSA form
You can list up to 10 schools online or up to four schools on a FAFSA PDF. (You can add more schools to your FAFSA form later.) Schools you list on the application will automatically receive your FAFSA results electronically.
Note: Schools will not be able to see which other schools you listed on your FAFSA form.
You should add any school that you plan on applying to, or that you have applied to, even if you haven’t been accepted yet. In most cases, once a school accepts you, they will then work on developing your aid offer.
Determining Your Dependency Status
The FAFSA form asks a series of questions that determine whether you are a dependent or for purposes of applying for federal student aid. If you are a dependent student, you must report parent information, as well as your own information, on your application. If you’re curious, you can find out now whether you’re a dependent student.
Your FAFSA information is safe with us! Is it safe with you? Read Federal Student Aid and Identity Theft to learn how we safeguard the personal information you report on fafsa.gov. We've also included some tips on what you can do (at home, online, or in the dorm) to keep your identity from being stolen.
Reporting Parents’ Information
If you’re a dependent student, you’ll need to report parent information on your FAFSA form. Visit our page on reporting parent information to find out who counts as your parent, what to do if you don’t live with your parents, and what to do if you don’t have access to your parents’ financial information.
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Who Is My Parent When I Fill Out the FAFSA® Form? graphic—Helps dependent students determine which parent's information to include in the FAFSA form.
Providing Financial Information
The FAFSA form asks for financial information, including information from tax forms and balances of savings and checking accounts.
Note: If your or your family’s financial situation has changed significantly from what is reflected on your federal income tax return (for example, if you’ve lost a job or otherwise experienced a drop in income), you may be eligible to have your financial aid adjusted. Complete the FAFSA questions as instructed on the application (including the transfer of tax return and income information), submit your FAFSA form, then contact the school you plan to attend to discuss how your current financial situation has changed. Note that the school's decision is final and cannot be appealed to the U.S. Department of Education.
What to Do If Your Parents’ (or Your) Marital Status Has Changed Since Taxes Were Filed
Here are some tips for this type of situation using the example of the 2023–24 FAFSA form:
The FAFSA help text covers all these situations in more detail as you’re filling out the application.
Automatically Transferring Your Tax Information Using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT)
The IRS DRT automatically transfers tax information into the FAFSA form. Be sure to consider this option if it’s offered to you. (If you requested an extension on filing your taxes and didn’t file until September or later, find out when your tax return information will likely be available using the IRS DRT.)
Try This Resource
Simple Steps to Transfer Tax Information Into Your FAFSA® Form graphic—Explains how to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to transfer tax information into the FAFSA form.
Here’s how the IRS DRT process works, assuming your tax information is available:
Using the IRS DRT saves you time and effort:
Can I change the tax return information that I transfer into the FAFSA® form via the IRS DRT?
No. Information you transfer via the IRS DRT can’t be changed. Remember, the information transferred is coming from your filed tax return, so it shouldn’t need to be changed. If your financial situation has changed or you filed a 1040X amended return, contact your school’s financial aid office to discuss whether it would be appropriate for the school to adjust the information on your FAFSA form.
If I’ve transferred my tax return information into the FAFSA® form via the IRS DRT, and then decide I want to enter the information manually instead, can I clear the information that was transferred via the DRT?
We strongly discourage clearing the information. The IRS DRT remains the fastest, most accurate way to input your tax return information into the FAFSA form. Additionally, using the IRS DRT to enter your tax information into the FAFSA form may reduce the amount of paperwork you need to provide to your school later.
If, despite this, you still want to clear the information transferred via the IRS DRT and enter your tax information manually—and you haven’t submitted the application or correction yet—you can select the “Reset FAFSA Form” button at the top of the page. Just know that by doing so, the entire application or correction will be cleared, and you will have to start the entire application or correction over again.
If I enter my tax information manually, will I be able to see it?
Yes. Tax return information that’s entered manually will be visible on fafsa.gov and on your Student Aid Report.
Signing and Submitting the FAFSA® Form
Before your FAFSA form can be processed, you’ll need to sign and submit the application. Here are some tips as you finish your FAFSA form:
Top FAFSA® Tips
Taking the Next Steps
Once you’ve completed your FAFSA form, there are more steps you have to take before you receive financial aid. Make sure you know what happens after you submit your FAFSA form.