What You Need to Complete the FAFSA
By Mike Pugh
January 14, 2015
It’s time to fill out the mother of all financial aid forms: the FAFSA. Don’t worry, it’s easier than you think!
Before you sit down to complete the form, make sure you have all the necessary materials. You’ll find that the form seems much simpler when you’re prepared with all the information you need.
- Your Social Security card and driver’s license, and/or alien registration card if you are not a US citizen.
- Your income tax returns, W-2 forms and 1099 forms for the previous year. If you’re married, you’ll also need your spouse’s documents.
- Your parents’ income tax returns, W-2 forms and 1040 forms for the previous year (if you are a dependent student).
- Records and documentation of other untaxed income received such as welfare benefits, Social Security income, veteran’s benefits, military or clergy allowances (if applicable).
- Current bank and brokerage account statements, including records of stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other investments (if applicable).
- Business or farm records (if applicable).
- Records relating to any unusual family financial circumstances, such as anything that changed from last year or anything that distinguishes the family from the typical family. Examples include high unreimbursed medical and dental expenses, unusually high dependent care costs (e.g., for a special needs child or an elderly parent), death, divorce, salary reductions, job loss and private K-12 tuition. (These aren’t required, but they could influence the amount of aid received.)
- Title IV Institution Codes for each school you are applying to. You can get this code from the school, or you can use FinAid’s Title IV School Code Database.
Once you’ve assembled all the necessary materials, filling out the FAFSA should be a fairly simple task.
It’s helpful to refer to a FAFSA worksheet during the process of gathering information for the application.
Remember to fill out your forms sooner than later–you don’t want to put something as important as your financial aid off until the last minute.
Also, make copies of all documents and keep them with a copy of your completed FAFSA.
The IRS Data Retrieval Tool may make it easier to complete the FAFSA.