Frequently Asked Questions About the FAFSA
By Amanda Draper, National Content and Social Media Director at NextGenVest
Here are some frequently asked questions people have when they fill out the FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It is important to note that when completing the FAFSA you should only use the www.fasfa.gov website, because this is the only place where you can complete the FAFSA. If you are having trouble or have questions about filling out the FAFSA, ask your Money Mentor, or sign up today for Money Mentoring.
What is an FSA ID?
Student: An FSA ID is the username and password necessary to sign the FAFSA form online. If you do not have an FSA ID you can get an FSA ID here. We recommend getting an FSA ID as soon as possible. It normally takes approximately 10 minutes to create an FSA ID. If this your first time filling out the FAFSA form, you will be able to use your FSA ID immediately to sign and submit your FAFSA form online. If you have previously filled out the FAFSA form, you may need to wait one to three days for the account verification process to occur, before you are able to use your new FSA ID to renew your FAFSA form and sign it online.
Parent: If your child is required to report parent information on the FAFSA form, you will need to create your own FSA ID in order to be able to sign your child’s FAFSA form online. You can create create an FSA ID here. Parents are able to use their FSA IDs right away.
Do my parents have to create an FSA ID? YES
IMPORTANT: EACH PARENT AND STUDENT MUST CREATE THEIR OWN FSA ID, because parents and students are required to have their own FSA IDs. If you mix up FSA IDs, you run the risk of delaying your financial aid. It is essential that each parent and student create their own FSA ID and that they do not share their FSA ID with anyone, even with each other.
What if my parents don’t have a SS#?
You put in zeros.
Which FAFSA form am I supposed to fill out?
The 2018–2019 FAFSA form is now available! Even if your state and school deadlines for applying for financial aid are not for awhile, you should always complete the FAFSA form as soon as possible, because some states and schools run out of financial aid early and will have limited funds leftover for financial aid if you apply later. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE TO APPLY. Visit to fafsa.gov to get started with applying for the FAFSA.
Complete the 2018–2019 FAFSA form if you will be attending college between July 1, 2018, and June 30, 2019.
Complete the 2017–2018 FAFSA form if you will be attending college between July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2018.
Complete both the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 FAFSA forms if you will be attending college during both of these time periods. If you have not yet completed the 2017-2018 FAFSA form, complete the 2017-2018 FAFSA form first, and then wait three days until that form processes. Then you can back in and complete the 2018-2019 FAFSA form.
TIP: If you are given the option to complete a “renewal” FAFSA form, choose this option. When you choose to renew your FAFSA form, your demographic information from the previous year will automatically be added to your new application, which you will save you some time.
Do I have to fill out my FAFSA every year?
YES! Completing and submitting the FAFSA is not a one time thing and that’s how you continue to receive financial aid through college.You must complete and submit a FAFSA form for each school year.
What if my parents are divorced, who needs to fill out my FAFSA?
You need to provide information about only one parent. Usually, this is the parent you live with the most. If you split time between parents equally, use the parent who provides most of the financial support. If the parent on your FAFSA form has been remarried, you need to include your step-parents information too.
Should I list every school I am considering even if I have not applied yet in the School Selection section?
Yes! It is important that in the School Selection section, you add every single school you are considering, even if you have not applied or have not been accepted yet. It does not hurt your application to add more schools, since colleges cannot see the other schools you have added. In fact, you do not even need to remove schools if you later decide not to apply to a school or attend a school. If you do not end up applying to the school or are not accepted at a school, the school can disregard your FAFSA form. However, you can remove schools at any time to make room for new schools. You can add up to 10 schools at a time. If you are applying to more than 10 schools, ask your Money Mentor for help.
How do I reset my FSA ID if I lost my password?
You have to call the FSA hotline and put your phone number on there.
What if my parents don’t want to share their financial information?
Assure them that their information is safe and privae and there are no strings attached. You can also ask an adult they respect to convince them that the FAFSA is critical to your college future.
What are the main types of financial aid?
There are 3 types: grants, scholarships, and loans. Loans must be paid back and 38% of all financial aid given is federal loans.
Will my grades effect the aid I get?
You must maintain good grades for all types of aid. Being in good academic standing secures your financial aid for subsequent years. Failure to do so may result in the loss of any type of financial aid (need-based or merit based).
I don’t think I can afford a private school, should I bother applying?
Yes, there are many private colleges that offer need-based and merit-based aid packages that may sometimes be worth more than at a public college so, keep your options open.
Is there a minimum amount of credits I need to have in order to receive my aid?
Yes! A student must be enrolled in at least six credit hours to be eligible for financial aid. Students who are enrolled in half-time will receive half the amount of their federal grant that they would have received as a full-time student so, think twice before cutting down your credit hours.
I don’t like my financial aid package, can it be reevaulated?
Yes! This is a process called “professional judgement” if certain circumstances that influenced their eligibility was out of their control.
What am I applying for when I submit my FAFSA?
You are applying for federal and state funds, as well as awards from your school. These can include grants and scholarships in addition to federal loans. Make sure to check your school’s requirements in order to maximize your financial aid eligibility.