FAFSA Guide For Everyone | Frank

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Here are the most important things you need to know to fill out your FAFSA®
quickly and efficiently.

The Basics

How do you want to file?

You have more options than you think
when you file your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®).

 

Rapid Filing

File FAFSA® in as little as 4 minutes using a free rapid filing service for the application.

FSA Online Form

File with the Federal Student Aid (FSA) at FAFSA.ed.gov. The FSA form has 108 questions and takes and average of 45-55 minutes to finish. 

FSA Paper Form

The paper FAFSA® form is available for students unable to file online. But it’s important to note it has a longer processing time.

Are you a 'dependent' or 'independent' student?

Understanding the difference between a dependent student and an independent student is key to filing your FAFSA® quickly and efficiently.

Dependent students are required to report their parent’s information on their application, while independent students do not.

Understanding definitions of family on the FAFSA®

If the student is dependent, one or more parents may need to provide their information for the FAFSA®. Here is a breakdown for different kinds of parents or guardians:

 

 

Biological Parent

Married biological parents have to include their information on the FAFSA®. If they’re divorced, only the parent with primary custody needs to provide their information. When parents have 50-50 custody, the one providing greater financial support is considered the qualifying parent.

Adoptive Parent

Adoptive parents are considered qualifying parents on the FAFSA® if the student was adopted before turning 13 years old. If the adoption occurred when the student was older, the student will be considered Independent and will not need to include parental information on the application.

Stepparent

Spouses of qualifying biological parents are required to report their personal and financial information on the FAFSA®. 

Legal Guardian

Legal guardians are not considered parents on the FAFSA®. A student with a court appointed guardian is considered an “independent student” and will not need to include parental information.

Gathering the right ID info

The FAFSA® requires some basic information to confirm who you are. Here are basic facts and documents you’ll need to locate:

 

Filing On Your Own
(Independent)

• Name and date of birth (easy, right?)

• Social Security Number

• Address and contact info

• Marital status, marriage or separation dates

Filing With A Parent
(Dependent)

• Names and birth dates for you and the student

• Social Security Numbers for you and the student

• Marital status and marriage or separation dates

• Number of children or dependents in your household

Navigating Your Financials

What finanical info is needed to
determine your aid?

The info that the FAFSA® asks for is used to determine your financial need. So, it makes sense that they’d ask for your financial information.

Keep in mind that to complete this portion of the FAFSA®, you’ll need to have some documents available. Read on to see what you need.

Students and parents filing together:

The FSA considers it the family’s responsibility to help pay for their dependent child’s education to the best of their ability. So, in addition to the student filing out their tax and financial information, parents are required to provide tax and financial information on the FAFSA®, too.

In our simplified version of FAFSA®, you can easily invite a parent to fill the parent portion of the form.

 

Tax & Financial Info

Tax Information

Firstly, you will be asked for your and your parents tax and income information from two years prior to the academic year for which you are applying for financial aid.

That means if you are applying for financial aid for the 2018-2019 school year, you will need your tax information from 2016.

Financial Information

You’ll need financial information for student and parent, including bank, checking, savings accounts, and values of any other investments or small businesses.

Documents You Will Need Checklist

• Tax return for student, if student has one and Tax return for parent. Specifically, just the first two pages of the 1040 or 1040A, or the first page of the 1040EZ.

• W2 from any jobs for student and parents.

• Any income you don’t pay taxes on, such as pensions, retirement funds, or military benefits.

• Cash, checking and savings account balances.

• Value of any investments.

• Value of any small businesses.

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Tip For Parents: If you have multiple children in college, each child will need their own FAFSA® application. Yes, you can transfer your parent information from one online form to another!

Independent students & adult students filing solo:

Your Tax & Financial Info

Tax Information

You will be asked for your tax and income information from two years prior to the academic year for which you are applying for financial aid.

That means if you are applying for financial aid for the 2018-2019 school year, you will need your tax information from 2016.

Financial Information

You’ll also need the current balances of your bank, checking, savings accounts, and values of any other investments or small businesses.

*If you’re married, you’ll need to include your spouse’s financial information on your application, too — even if you weren’t yet married during the requested tax year.

Documents You Will Need Checklist

• Tax returns. Specifically, just the first two pages of the 1040 or 1040A, or the first page of the 1040EZ.

• Your W2 from any jobs.

• Any income you don’t pay taxes on, such as pensions, retirement funds, or military benefit.

• Cash, checking and savings account balances.

• Value of any investments.

• Value of any small businesses.

Finishing Up

Which schools should get your information?

The FSA will need to know what schools you’re interested in attending so they can send your FAFSA® information to those schools.

 

What the FAFSA® will ask:

You’ll be asked where you went to high school and where you would like to pursue higher education. Don’t worry if you’re not sure where you want to go just yet — you can list up to 10 schools on your FAFSA®.

Information you'll need:

• High School name and location

• Colleges you are interested in attending

Signing your online forms
with FSA ID


Before the FSA can process your online application, your FAFSA® must be “signed” with your unique FSA ID, which will serve as your electronic signature and confirm that you are you. You will need to create your FSA ID here.

Parents: you and your child will need to create and sign with separate FSA IDs.

The FSA ID is linked to your social security number, so you will only be able to create one FSA ID. It’s important to create a username and password that no one will be able to guess, but that you’ll still remember.

For detailed instructions on how to create an FSA ID, check out this article.

What to expect after you submit

Congratulations, you’ve successfully signed and submitted your FAFSA®! The difficult part is over! Here’s what happens next:

 

01

Get Your
Student Aid Report

You will receive your Student Aid Report (SAR) within two weeks of signing your FAFSA®, although it may only take a few days to receive if you supplied your email address on your application.

Your SAR will contain instructions to update any information that needs to be corrected in the comments section of your SAR. If you don’t address any issues you see in your SAR, you may experience delays getting your aid.

02

Financial Aid
Award Letters

Your financial aid award offer letter will contain information about grants, scholarships, and loans your school is offering you. 

Incoming freshmen can expect to receive their offers in March or April, while currently enrolled students should expect to receive their award letters a few weeks later.

If you haven’t yet been accepted for academic enrollment, schools will most likely send financial aid offer letters around the same time as acceptance letters.

 

03

Accept or Appeal
Your Aid Offers

It’s possible to appeal your financial aid award if you feel your offer isn’t enough for you to pay for college.

Contact your school’s financial aid office to find out how their appeals process works. Frank can help you.

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Remember: you do not have to accept all parts of your financial aid offer — especially loans. If you do not want to take on any loans, you do not have to do so.

Still have questions? Get free help!

Our team in New York City is ready to answer your
questions and help out however we can. Get in touch by
chat, text, email and phone.

 

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Help Center

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347.690.7886

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We are not affiliated with the U.S. Department of Education. Federal Student Aid (FSA), an office of the U.S. Department of Education, makes the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form and assistance available to the public for free at fafsa.gov.

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