By Andrea Vasquez
Whether you’re a brand new or current college student, the financial aid process can seem overwhelming at times. Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a starting point for many forms of financial aid including grants, scholarships, work study opportunities, loans, and more. Here are several tips to completing the FAFSA:
Have he following documents ready before you begin to fill out the FAFSA online. If your parents still claim you as a dependent on their income tax forms, you will need to have these items for them as well:
- Social Security Number
- Driver’s license
- Federal income tax returns, W-2s, and other records of earned income
FASA is now based on prior year tax information. For example, if you will be enrolling in the 2019-2020 academic school year, then you will need financial information from 2017.
- Bank statements and investment records
- Untaxed income records (child support received, interest income, and veterans noneducation benefits)
Create an FSA ID
- Visit FAFSA.gov
- If you have never completed a FAFSA, click “Start Here.”
- You will then be asked if you, the student, are completing the application of if you are the parent completing the application for your student.
- If you are filling out the FAFSA for yourself, select “I am the student.”
- Select the blue highlighted “Create one” link to create an FSA ID
An FSA ID is an electronic signature meant to verify your identity. Your FSA ID must not be shared with other You and your parents cannot have the same FSA ID to login. Your (and your parents’ if you are a dependent student) FSA ID will be used to sign in and submit the FAFSA.
- You will be redirected to FSAID.ed.gov.
- Follow the instructions to create your FSA ID.
Complete your FAFSA
- After confirming your FSA ID, you can login to FAFSA.gov.
- Enter your basic personal information.
- List the colleges, universities, and/or career schools you would like to receive your FAFSA information.
You must list at least one school to receive your information. The schools you list will use your FAFSA information to determine the types and amounts of aid you may receive. Use the Federal School Code Search to find the colleges you’re interested in including on your FAFSA form. San Jacinto College’s school code is 003609.
- Determine your dependency status
The FAFSA form asks a series of questions that determine whether you are a dependent or independent student for purposes of applying for federal student aid. If you are a dependent student, you must report parent information, as well as your own information, on your application.
- Enter financial information from the documents you gathered in step 1.
- To save time, and reduce the chances of being selected for verification, use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) to import the previous year’s tax information.
The IRS DRT takes you to the IRS website, where you’ll need to provide your name and other information exactly as you provided it on your tax return. Some information will be prepopulated from your FAFSA form.
At the IRS site, you’ll see a page that indicates that your tax information is available. (For security and privacy protections, you won’t see the actual information.) You can choose to import your information into the FAFSA form, or you can cancel your request and return to the FAFSA site.
If you choose to import your information into the FAFSA form, you’ll find that on the FAFSA site, and instead of your tax information being displayed, you’ll see “Transferred from the IRS” in the appropriate fields. You will not be able to make changes to those answers.
- Sign and Submit your FAFSA
To ensure the application functions properly, make sure the pop-up blocker in your browser allows pop-ups from fafsa.ed.gov.
Be sure to sign with your FSA ID (your username and password) so your FAFSA form will be processed as quickly as possible. (If you log in to the form by providing your FSA ID, you won’t be asked for it again when it’s time to sign. However, if you’re providing parent information, one of your parents will be required to sign your application.)
Remember that the FAFSA is free. You should never have to pay a fee for filling out or completing the FAFSA. Be aware of fraudulent emails, links, and websites, asking you to pay a fee for assistance in completing the FAFSA. Only official U.S. Department of Education websites will have .gov in their website addresses.
Be sure to check with the San Jacinto College financial aid office, or visit sanjac.edu/financial-aid about priority FAFSA deadlines, financial aid events, and any assistance with completing the FAFSA.