How to File FAFSA


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How to File the FAFSA?

Before we proceed to understand the step-by-step guide to file the FAFSA, here are certain tips that will help you file it efficiently.

  • The color of the FAFSA forms is of great importance. Every year, the color of the forms keeps changing. For 2016-2017, the student-related items on the FAFSA have been presented in orange color, and parent-related items have been presented in purple color.
  • Students don’t need to pay even a penny for submitting or processing the FAFSA form.

Please note: All the steps mentioned below have been structured, keeping the online version of the FAFSA (FOTW) in mind.

Let’s proceed to understand the step-wise procedure to file the FAFSA efficiently.

Related:A step-by-step guide to successfully creating a FAFSA account.


Scholars need to be ready by collecting the important paperwork, tax forms and the documents. They need to observe the demographic information regarding their family and themselves.

But, what documents do the students need?

  • If a student is not regarded as a US citizen, but is an eligible non-citizen, then he/she has to provide the Student’s Alien Registration card.
  • If the students have a driving license they need to present it

The student’s parents are equally important- Especially, if the student is dependent, then the parents and the student need the following-

  • Legal names and Social Security cards
  • Federal income tax yields for the prior taxation year, if completed (IRS Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ or the equivalent foreign income tax coming back)
  • Records of untaxed income, if any
  • Records of child support paid, if any
  • Statements of current bank account and brokerage accounts
  • Detail information present on the records of student aid funds included in the adjusted gross income, like- AmeriCorps benefits and taxable portions of fellowships and scholarships.
  • Records of the earned income and other taxable income like unemployment benefits, including the 1099 forms and W-2 forms
  • Records of mutual funds, stocks, bonds and other investments
  • Records of taxable earnings from Federal Work-Study or other need-based work programs

Related:Student Demographic information Section: All you need to know

How to file FAFSA online?

The FAFSA can be filled in 2 ways- online and manual. The Online version of the FAFSA (FOTW) is popularly adopted by most of the students. So, let us talk about the benefits of filling the FAFSA online

If you fill the FAFSA online at  is that the processing time is significantly shortened.

Filing the FAFSA online at  has its own benefits-

  • The processing time gets significantly shortened.
  • The federal central processing unit is really quick in turning over a response, which helps the colleges prepare a timelier notification of eligibility for financial assistance.

There are other benefits that include the following-

  • The errors are reduced on the form.
  • Built-in edit checks will not allow the family to move to the next section, if some of the data is incomplete or inconsistent in the current segment. Before submitting the FAFSA, the program will perform a final inspection of the full application, checking for missing and/or conflicting data
  • The skip-logic helps a lot, as there are less number of queries to be filled out. So, the students will not be asked questions that are not relevant to them. For example, unmarried students will not be asked questions about their children
  • Built-in, context-sensitive help are other features of FOTW.
  • Drop-down boxes help families to choose from a selection of r
  • FOTW allow students to list up to 10 colleges, Whereas you can only list 4 colleges on the paper FAFSA

After the FAFSA on the web is completed and submitted, a hard copy of the confirmation page can be obtained, that will contain a Confirmation Stamp and certain other details. 

Now, we will learn about the Federal Student Aid ID or (FSA ID), which is a mandate for both the student and one of his/her custodial parents.

You can use the FSA ID to electronically sign the U.S. Department of Education documents, including the FAFSA. If you want to add schools to the FAFSA or certain make corrections, then The FSA ID may also be employed for these purposes.

Related:How does the FAFSA measure the eligibility for Financial Aid?

Let us understand the other benefits of FSA ID-

  • You can use the FSA ID for electronically signing the FAFSA, or use it like the username and passwor
  • It identifies the individual who is filling out the FAFSA uniquely, and runs like a wet signature written with a pen.
  • It is mandatory for the custodial parent and the student to have their own FSA
  • If the FSA ID is not used, the federal processor will flag the FAFSA for identity verification.

How do I get the Federal Student Aid ID?

  • Visit the FSA ID website at, and you don’t have to wait till January 1.
  • You need to create the username and password by providing your email address.
  • An applicant needs to provide his/ her name, date of birth, Social Security Number, and answer the challenging questions selected by him/her.
  • One must cross check that the name and the Social Security Number must match the information mentioned in the application, or the Social security card.
  • While creating a username for yourself, you must make sure that it has 6 alphanumeric characters, and the password must be more than 8 characters and less than 30 characters long. While choosing the password, ensure that it does not match with the applicant’s name, Social security number and the date of birth. You are required to change your password every 2 years for security reasons.
  • You must note that- for every FSA id, there needs to be a separate email address. If, the student is dependant then the parents need not use their own email address, but it is mandatory for a student to have his/her own email address.

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