The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and is required to receive any federal funds. Federal funds include need-based and non-need-based grants, work-study programs, and student loans. The FAFSA may also be used for awarding some state aid, institutional aid, and even private scholarships.

You must complete the FAFSA at fafsa.gov after October 1 of your senior year. The online application process contains built-in edits to help you prevent costly mistakes. Make sure you meet state grant deadlines and your prospective colleges’ priority deadlines.FIRST YOU HAFTA

The information you reported on your FAFSA is used to calculate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The formula used to calculate your EFC is established by law and is used to measure your family’s financial strength on the basis of your family’s income and assets. The EFC is used to determine your eligibility for federal student aid and may be used for institutional need-based aid or state financial aid. The FAFSA does not award financial aid. The FAFSA processors simply process the data, calculate the EFC, and send the information to the colleges you list on the FAFSA. The college determines the federal aid and other need-based aid you are eligible to receive.

Review for accuracy your Student Aid Report (SAR), which is sent to you after you file your FAFSA. If necessary, make and submit corrections. Some schools may require the CSS/Financial Aid Profile® in addition to the FAFSA.

If you have any special circumstances, contact the Financial Aid Office of the school you plan to attend.

Get Help Filing the FASFA

Check with your counselor to see if Get2College is hosting a FAFSA Completion Day at your school. If so, make an appointment for one-on-one assistance for you and your parents to submit the FAFSA. If we are not coming to your school, call your nearest Get2College Center to make an appointment to visit an office or ask for remote online assistance. We will be glad to help you file your FAFSA online using new remote technology. As always, this service is free!

Gathering the Documents Needed to Complete the FAFSA

The FAFSA asks for basic information about the student and parent (your name, date of birth, address, etc.) and about the family’s financial situation. Depending on your circumstances, you might need the following information or documents as you fill out the FAFSA for both you and your parents:

  • Parent(s) and student’s legal names
  • Parent(s) and student’s Social Security numbers
  • Parent(s) and student’s dates of birth
  • Parent’s driver’s license number
  • Email address for student and parent
  • Student’s ACT ID number (log into ACT account and find ID number under “Manage My Profile”)
  • Info for parents with whom you live: marriage date, divorce date, or separation date
  • If you are in a legal guardianship, bring court papers for the guardianship.
  • Do not bring information on a grandparent, aunt, or anyone other than a parent unless you have been legally adopted (even if someone else claims you on the federal tax return.)
  • W-2 forms and other records of money earned in 2016 (student and parents)
  • 2016 Federal Income Tax Return (the 1040 form for student and parents) – If your parents or parent and step-parent file separately, bring copies of both tax returns.
  • Value of bank accounts and investments

One thing you don’t need for the FAFSA is money! The FAFSA is FREE, so if a website asks you to pay to fill it out, you’re not dealing with the official FAFSA site, fafsa.gov.

After the FAFSA…

FAFSA Acknowledgment
The processed FAFSA results will be sent to the colleges you listed on the FAFSA, and the college Financial Aid Office will determine the amount of financial aid you will receive.

After completing the FAFSA, if you provided an email address, you will receive an initial email that the FAFSA was filed. In 1-3 days, you will receive another email to let you know that the data was processed and the information was sent to the school.

Student Aid Report (SAR)
If you provided an email on the FAFSA, in 1-3 days you will receive an email with a secure link to access your Student Aid Report (SAR) online. If you did not provide an email, you will receive the SAR in the mail. If the information is incorrect, it may be necessary to go back into www.fafsa.gov and make corrections to a processed FAFSA. If you have any questions about the FAFSA process, you can call 1.800.4FEDAID (1.800.433.3243), or contact Get2College at 601.321.5533.

(Not everyone is selected for verification. If you are not contacted about this, see Step 4.)

Some financial aid applications will be selected for a federally required verification process. This means that you will be expected to provide supporting documentation for the information on your FAFSA. You may be asked to verify numbers from your FAFSA such as household size, number in college, or untaxed income. You may be asked to make a FAFSA correction to upload your IRS 1040 tax return information using the FAFSA IRS Data Retrieval tool. Or you can provide an IRS Tax Return Transcript by requesting online at www.irs.gov or by calling 800.908.9946.

The information that the college requests must be mailed back to the financial aid office at the college. Some colleges will not make a financial aid award for you until verification is complete.

Award Notification
You will receive a Financial Aid Award Notification only from those colleges to which you have been offered admission. Some colleges may require additional forms for financial aid, and it will be your responsibility to complete and submit these documents.

The Award Notification will tell you what you are eligible to receive in financial aid, how to accept and/or apply for any financial aid offered, and the next steps in the process.

Typically, schools will allow you to accept your award online. However, you may receive an award letter by mail. You should determine which of the awards you will accept and which you will decline. When it comes to student loans, you can choose the amount that you would like to accept. There may be a deadline for accepting financial aid.

Student Loans
If you accepted Federal student loans, you will need to follow the college’s process for completing the Master Promissory Note (MPN) and Loan Entrance Counseling.