FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid

FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid 1 2 Objectives  Understand acronyms and jargon associated with the FAFSA (Free Application for F...
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FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid



Objectives  Understand acronyms and jargon associated with the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).  Appreciate the importance of completing the FAFSA early and accurately—each and every year.  Recognize how to address unique family and financial situations when completing the FAFSA—and, what to do if your situation cannot be addressed within the form itself.  Identify the correct FAFSA website and the form itself.  Become familiar with dependency questions.  Determine what information and/or documents are needed to complete the FAFSA and understand where to obtain this information.


What… …is the FAFSA? The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid; it is the gateway to almost all money to pay for college. This form is used to determine the amount of money (or EFC) a family can “reasonably contribute” to the price of attending a postsecondary institution. The results from the FAFSA are used in the awarding of student grants, work-study, and loans.

…is an FSA ID? This is a Federal Student Aid Identification, which is used to access all Federal Student Aid websites, including www.fafsa.gov. The FSA ID consists of a user-created Username and Password. The student can create an FSA ID at any point prior to or after starting their FAFSA at https://fsaid.ed.gov. The student and, if student is dependent, a parent will require an FSA ID to complete the FAFSA. For a list of dependency questions to help determine dependency status, please see page 24. Both student and parent will require a separate, unique email address for their FSA ID; all FSA ID users are strongly encouraged to verify their email address.

…is a SAR? The SAR is the Student Aid Report; it is a summary (approximately 5 pages) of all the information entered into the FAFSA. The EFC can be found at the top right corner, on the first page of the SAR. Once the FAFSA is processed, the student will receive an email stating the Student Aid Report is ready.

…is an EFC? The EFC stands for Expected Family Contribution. It is an indicator of a family’s ability to pay towards the student’s education. It is also used by financial offices to determine a student’s eligibility for federal, state, and some institutional financial aid during one school year.


How… …do I start? Students should begin by visiting https://fsaid.ed.gov to create their FSA ID Username and Password. The FSA ID allows students to securely access their FAFSA, as well as other Federal Student Aid websites, including National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS).

…do I find the FAFSA? The FAFSA can be found at www.fafsa.ed.gov. REMINDER: The FAFSA is FREE; do not complete the FAFSA at any other website. You will be asked to pay.

…often must I complete the FAFSA? The FAFSA is a form that must be completed every year the student is in school—the earlier the better, as soon as possible!

…important is it that I check email regularly? Because Federal Student Aid will email the student when the Student Aid Report (SAR) is ready, it is vitally important that the student check his or her email on a regular basis. Communication is not frequent, but anything from Federal Student Aid is important. Communication will also be sent if a financial aid office makes changes or corrections to a FAFSA and to remind students to make corrections if the FAFSA was originally filed with estimates.


Why… …should I file a FASFA? The FAFSA is the necessary application for any student wanting to receive federal, state, and some institutional aid. Think of it this way: NO FAFSA=NO AID.

…is it important to file as early as possible? Many kinds of financial aid are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Since some funding is limited, students want to complete the FAFSA early in order to receive funds for which they are eligible.

When… …do I complete a FAFSA? The 2017-18 FAFSA is available beginning October 1st, 2016 and should be completed as soon as possible. Aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. The earlier the better!

…is Missouri’s FAFSA deadline? In order to be considered for some Missouri aid, particularly the Access Missouri Grant, schools must receive the FAFSA before February 1st, 2017.

…is my school’s FAFSA deadline? Many colleges and universities have their own priority FAFSA deadlines; oftentimes, these deadlines are utilized not just in the awarding of institutional dollars, but also state aid (i.e., Access Missouri). Please check with each school’s financial aid office to determine what those dates might be.

…do I renew my FAFSA? Students should always renew their FAFSA as early as possible after it is made available on October 1st each year.


FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid www.fafsa.ed.gov

First-time FAFSA filers will want to log-in here!

If you are a returning user, you will use this Login to complete, correct, or update your FAFSA!

NOTE: Look for Federal Student Aid on the FAFSA website; double-check and make sure your website looks like the above and says www.fafsa.ed.gov and nothing else! Remember, the FAFSA is free and other websites may charge you! 7

Log-in using the student’s FSA Username (or verified e-mail address) AND FSA Password.


Check and/or confirm status of student’s FSA ID Status here! For new users, who have not created an FSA ID, here it will indicate you need to “Create FSA ID”.

Please complete the 2017-2018 FAFSA, which is available starting October 1st, 2016.


Students will need to create a SAVE KEY in order to return to a saved FAFSA! A SAVE KEY is temporary and between 4-8 characters long.

Click here in order to access the various help functions (live chat, phone number, email addresses, etc.). The live chat function is great—it allows you to save and print the conversations you’ve had with a customer service representative.


It is not mandatory to read through these, but they provide good information about Frequently Asked Questions for the FAFSA.

Students are not required to provide a driver’s license. There is no reason not to, but it will not prevent a student from moving forward with completing the FAFSA.

Most of the information on this page is now pre-populated, based on information entered for the student’s FSA ID. Please review to confirm information is correct and answer any blank questions.


There are several possible options in the drop-down box; please be sure to remember that students are eligible for different aid. Even if you are planning to eventually obtain a master’s or a doctorate degree, please make sure to enter the degree you will be working on for the 2016-2017 aid year. It could cause mix-ups in the financial aid process.

Answering the high school question, correctly, is more important than ever! Don’t forget to hit “CONFIRM!”!


Search for schools here— remember, you can add up to 10 schools!

Don’t forget to ADD the schools by clicking on this box after checking the school(s) you want to select.

Don’t forget to check important school information, including graduation rates! This chart also shows net price average, retention rates, and other important information.


Dependency Status & Special Circumstances


NOTE: Parent refusal to provide information or contribute to college is not a special circumstance. Schools will not provide dependency overrides in these circumstances.


Students who complete a FAFSA without parent information must be aware of two things. First, the student must immediately contact the school’s financial aid office to begin the process of a dependency override. Second, until a dependency override has been granted, the FAFSA will not calculate a student’s EFC. 16

Dependent students will need to know the marital status of their parents. If a student’s biological parents BOTH live with the student, both of their financial information MUST be in the FAFSA, regardless of marital status. As of January 1st, 2014 parent marital status includes an option that says: “Unmarried but living together”. This will be for families where biological parents never married or, are divorced or separated, but still reside together. By clicking on the link titled “parents”, one can read additional information and descriptions to best choose the correct marital status.


Both parents and students will see these questions, separately; a dependent student will see these questions twice (once for parent’s income/assets and once for student income/assets). Each will have to answer if they have already completed 2015 taxes, will file, or if they are not filing. In addition, they should indicate their tax filing status according to that tax return. If the student and/or parent(s) filed 2015 taxes, they will be prompted to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT); it is strongly encouraged that all tax filers use IRS DRT to transfer processed tax information from the IRS to the FAFSA. Federal Student Aid (FSA) IDs are required to link transfer tax information from the IRS to the FAFSA.


Assuming a tax filer is successful in transferring tax information from the IRS into the FAFSA, much of this page and the next will not require a manual answer.


This question is dynamic; each individual family will have a unique asset dollar amount. It includes an asset protection allowance based on the parent(s) marital status and age. If your assets exceed the dollar amount shown on the student’s FAFSA, the parent(s) must answer questions about bank accounts, savings/investments, and businesses.


This question should always be left a “NO”; it is only marked otherwise if you pay someone to complete the FAFSA for you. And you should never, ever pay for FAFSA help! There are many free resources: see page 21!

Both the student and one parent will sign electronically, using their FSA IDs!

Both must read the accompanying statements and indicate agreement.

You are all finished—hit submit!


Frequently Asked Questions If my parents are divorced, whose information do I need?

Report the information of the parent with whom you lived the most during the 12 months preceding the date you completed the FAFSA. It does not make a difference which parent claims you as a dependent for tax purposes. If you did not live with either parent or lived equally with each parent, the parental information must be provided for the parent from whom you received the most financial support during the preceding 12 months or the parent from whom you received the most support the last time support was given. If your parents are divorced, but still share a household, both parents information is required in the FAFSA.

What should I do if my parent with whom I live is remarried and my stepparent refuses to supply information?

If you are a dependent student and your parent is remarried, the stepparent’s information must be included or you will not be considered for federal student aid. If you believe that your situation is unique or unusual other than the stepparent’s simple refusal to provide the requested information, you should discuss the matter further with your financial aid administrator at the college or university which you plan to attend.

How are 529 savings plans reported on the FAFSA?

There are two types of Qualified Tuition Programs: tuition prepayment plans and college savings plans (529s). Both will have the plan value reported on the FAFSA as an asset of the owner (not the beneficiary), except when the owner is a dependent student, in which case the plan is an asset of the parent. So, regardless of whether student or parent is owner, it is always reported as an asset of the parent. The plan value is not reported as an asset if the owner is another person (i.e., grandparent or non-custodial parent). In addition, plan values of a student’s sibling are also reported when the parent is the owner of the plans.

Whose income do I report if I live with a grandparent, aunt, etc. (other than a biological or adoptive parent)?

The FAFSA is very clear—only biological or adoptive parent information should be included in the FAFSA. Students who reside with a grandparent, aunt/uncle, or another adult may, depending on circumstances, be considered an independent student, which means no parent/guardian information is required. Otherwise, students may need to pursue a dependency override or begin conversations with a parent to secure necessary information.

That’s great, but I still want help. Help text is available and accessible for every question on the FAFSA if you apply online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. You can also get free live help online via this website. Contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center: 1.800.4.FED.AID (1.800.433.3243) for assistance with any questions you have regarding your FAFSA! Take advantage of the Missouri Department of Higher Education’s FAFSA Frenzy in 2016! www.dhe.mo.gov/ppc/ffsites.php.


2017-2018 FAFSA Checklist Complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) at www.fafsa.ed.gov to apply for federal, state, and college-based financial aid. Dependent students must include parents’ information on the FAFSA. To determine your dependency status, see dependency status worksheet. REQUIRED INFORMATION


2015 Federal Income Tax Forms and, If applicable, Schedule K-1 (Form 1065)

Personal records or call the IRS at 800-829-1040—allow 10 days processing.

2015W-2 Forms

Personal records or contact your employer(s) or call the IRS at 800-829-1040

Federal Student Aid (FSA) IDs

Create FSA ID Username and Password https://fsaid.ed.gov/npas/index.htm

Student’s driver’s license number

Personal records

Social Security Number (both student and parent)

Personal records or call the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213

Birth date (for both parents and student)

Personal records

Date you or your parents were married, separated, divorced, or widowed.

Personal records

Current (day of FAFSA filing) cash and checking/savings account balances.

Personal records or from your bank

Current investment values (stocks, savings bonds, mutual funds, CDs) excluding parent’s home and retirement plans.

Statements from the financial institution


2017-2018 Dependency Checklist Dependency Status Questions

Answer the following questions to determine your dependency status for the FAFSA. Were you born before January 1, 1994? Yes No Are you married?



Will you be enrolled in a master’s or doctorate program at the beginning of the 2017-18 school year?



Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces or currently serving on active duty?



Do you have children who will receive more than half of their financial support from you?



At any time since you turned age 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care, or were you a dependent or ward of the court?



Are you or were you an emancipated minor as determined by a court in your state of legal residence?



Are you or were you in legal guardianship as determined by a court in your state of legal residence?



At any time on or after July 1, 2016, were you homeless?



If you answer “no” to every question, you are dependent and must provide parental information on the FAFSA. If you answer “yes” to any question, you are independent and should not include parental information on the FAFSA.


Federal Student Aid (FSA) IDs

Student: Email Address: ___________________________________ Username: ______________________________________ Password: ______________________________________ Challenge Question Answers: 1. __________________________________ 2. __________________________________ 3. __________________________________ 4. __________________________________ 5. __________________________________

Parent: ______________________ Email Address: ______________________________________ Username: _____________________________________ Password: _____________________________________ Challenge Question Answers: 1. __________________________________ 2. __________________________________ 3. __________________________________ 4. __________________________________ 5. __________________________________


Teresa Stock Steinkamp, LMSW Advising Director The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis p. 314.932.6932 f. 314.725.5231 [email protected]

@tstockstein 26


Teresa Stock Steinkamp, LMSW Revised October 2016

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