What I Learned About the FAFSA and What You Need to Know

What I Learned About the FAFSA and What You Need to Know

Earlier this week kicked off FAFSA season.

As of October 1st, 2017, students planning to attend college for the 2018-2019 school year can start completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  The FAFSA is the application students complete to determine financial aid eligibility and must be filled out every academic year. 

To be completely honest, I wasn’t sure exactly where to start when it came to filling out the FAFSA, so I waited until the last minute.  When I explained to the financial aid department at my selected university that I would be independently paying my way and needed as much financial assistance as possible, they gave me some valuable tips and information.

no place like home

Financially Independent, But Still Live With Your Parents?  That’s Okay.  But They Still Need to Fill Out the FAFSA.

If you’re under 24 and not a veteran of the armed forces, chances are you will be filing your FAFSA as a “dependent”.  Simply put, you live at home and/or your parents assist in financially providing for you in some way.

Your parents are not obligated to provide support once FAFSA information has been filed.  The status gives the Department of Education a better understanding of what type of student loans you’ll receive.

Independent/Dependent:  Which One is Me?

Just because you file a W2 and claim yourself on your taxes, doesn’t mean you can/should claim yourself as an independent on your FAFSA.  Here’s a great infographic from studentaid.ed.gov to help navigate your independent/dependent filing status:

dependency status for FAFSA infographic

Who’s My Parent When I Fill Out the FAFSA?

Every family is different, so here’s a helpful infographic to walk you through defining your parent status before filling out the FAFSA.

parent filing status for the FAFSA

Here’s Everything Else You Need to Fill Out the FAFSA

1.    Your FSA ID.  This is a username and password you can use to log in to U.S. Department of Education websites.  One parent of each dependent student will need an Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID.  You can create your ID, even if you’re not ready to file for the FAFSA yet.  Create a FSA ID.

2.    Your Social Security number.

3.    Your driver’s license number.   

4.    Your 2016 tax record information.  The Department of Education recently modified this process by requiring a year earlier of your tax records.  Beginning this year, you’ll report 2016 information instead of 2017.

5.    Records of parent’s untaxed income.  This could include child support received, interest income, or veteran benefits.

6.    Records of assets.  This includes savings/checking accounts, stocks, bonds, and real estate (except the home which your family lives).

7.    List of colleges/universities you have considered attending.  You can always modify this list later, so add as many considerations as possible to receive all financial aid information.


What if I Live At Home, But My Parents Don’t Want to Provide Their Information?
Even if you plan on paying for college independently, the FAFSA still requires your parent’s information.  Here’s some information regarding, “What if my parents are unwilling to provide their information on my FAFSA form”?


Did You Know Your Credit Union Offers Resources About the FAFSA?
There’s a FAFSA National Webinar Recording to check out through our Student Choice page.  Find more information on planning for college, and learn more about student loans.

Questions about filling out the FAFSA early?  Contact the Student Choice Center at 1-866-252-8561 or reach them via mail.

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