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Forms You Need to Fill Out FAFSA

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You'll need to prepare before you sit down to fill out the FAFSA -- the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Get these key documents and information together before you tackle the application.

  1. Your Social Security Number
    closeup of US Social Security cards
    closeup of US Social Security cards

A Social Security Number is unique for each individual. It is used in the U.S. as an identification number and to track Social Security benefits. (Social Security benefits help the elderly, those with disabilities, and survivors of deceased parents.) Americans typically apply for Social Security numbers soon after they are born or when they get their first job.

SSN are needed to in order to work in the U.S. Internationals can apply for SSNs after they are approved to work by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It is advised that non-citizen students wait 10 days after they arrive at their university to apply for a SSN to give DHS time to process immigration paperwork. Then you can apply for an SSN at your local Social Security office using forms found online. You will need to show documents that prove your immigration status, your age and your identity. Here is a document outlining all the application process and here is more details on SSN for noncitizens.


If you lose your Social Security card, you can get a replacement from the Social Security Administration. But they won't be happy about it and you can expect to spend hours if not longer getting a replacement card.

You’ll need a federal Alien Registration Number if you are not a U.S. citizen but meet the eligibility requirements for federal student aid. An Alien Registration Number, also known as an "A-Number," is an eight- or nine-digit number followed by the letter A assigned by DHS. The number can be found on your Permanent Resident card, otherwise known as a "green card."

  1. Your Driver’s License Number

Have it handy. If you do not have a driver’s license, no worries, skip this step.

If you are an international student and want to learn more about how to get a driver's license or SSN, check out this story.

  1. Your 2015 Tax Records

    Photo Courtesy of Homeroom Blog from Dept. of Education.
    Photo Courtesy of Homeroom Blog from Dept. of Education.

Starting with the FAFSA for the 2017-2018 school year , you are required to submit income information from the previous tax year.

  • So, for the FAFSA which opened for submissions on Oct. 1, 2016, you will use information from your 2015 tax records.

  • NO information from 2016 year will be accepted.

  • This new rule will make filing for the FAFSA easier this year because you will have tax records ready and can automatically upload them using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. You no longer have to worry about going back at the end of tax season to update--don't procrastinate!

  1. Records of Your Untaxed Income

  • Untaxed income includes child support received, interest income, and veteran’s non-education benefits. If it applies to you, you will report items from the 2015 tax calendar.

  • More specific details for parents and students can be found here.

  • This section may or may not apply to you.

  1. Records of All Your Assets (aka $$$$)

For recording your assets -- money in the bank, property, investments -- you should use the most up to date information you have rather than older information from 2015. Examples of assets are checking and savings accounts, stocks, bonds and real estate.


  1. List of School(s) Where You Will Apply

  • When filing the FAFSA, make sure you list all schools you will apply to. Even if there is a slight chance you might apply, add the college to your list because it will increase your chances of receiving first-come, first serve aid.

  • You can list 10 schools on your FAFSA at a time. You can remove a school later if you decide not to apply.

  • If you are planning on applying to more than 10 schools at a time, this is what you should do.

  1. Your FSA ID

A FSA ID -- or identification -- is a username and password parents and students use to log in to U.S. Department of Education sites, like


  • Parents or students filling out the 2017-2018 FAFSA should create separate FSA IDs as soon as possible.

  • Individual FSA IDs must use separate email addresses. Parents should not use one FSA ID for both mother and father, or create a FSA ID for their child, the student.

  • In some cases, it takes three days to access your FSA ID after you create it. To avoid the wait, sign up now so you are prepared when you start to fill out your application.

  • Pro Tip: Once you create your FSA ID, create a note in the Note App on your smartphone where you can store the username and password!

This information is from the U.S. Dept. Of Education Homeroom blog.

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