Your step-by-step guide to filling out the FAFSA.

Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an intensive process. Follow these steps to make filling out the FAFSA much easier.

1.Gather the needed documents.

To fill out your FAFSA, you will need your:

  • Social Security Number
  • Driver’s license (or if you don’t have one, a state-issued ID)
  • Previous year’s records of money earned (W-2 Form, etc.)
  • Income Tax Returns from the previous year (and your spouse’s, if you are married)
  • Parents’ federal income tax return (if you are a dependent student)
  • Untaxed income records (for example, Social Security, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, welfare, veterans benefit records)
  • Current bank statements
  • Investment records
  • Your alien registration or permanent resident card (if not born in the US)

2. Print the FAFSA worksheet.

Print a preliminary copy of your FAFSA and use it to collect your parents’ financial data. This will streamline the process when you fill out your actual FAFSA.

3. Decide how you will sign your FAFSA.

You can sign your FAFSA in one of two ways: electronically, by entering a Personal Identification Number (or PIN), or by mailing in a signature page. If you choose the electronic option, you can apply for a PIN right away. Your parents also can use a PIN to sign electronically.

4. Check your eligibility for financial aid.

Before you fill out your FAFSA, find out whether you’re eligible for federal financial aid in the first place!

5. Note important deadlines.

  • For Federal Student Aid, you must apply starting January 1 of each calendar year.
  • It’s best to apply as early as possible — colleges may be able to offer you a better financial aid package if you apply early, as it is often first come, first serve.
  • Institutions tend to have their own deadlines. Contact them for exact dates.

Now you can fill out your FAFSA and apply for financial aid!