Before you know it, another FAFSA® year will be upon us. For students returning to school in need of financial aid, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) is a necessary step to gaining free money for college.
Unfortunately, it’s not always an easy process. Things change from year to year, requirements are difficult to sift through and understand, and for some families, the process is time-consuming and confusing.
At FRANK, we believe that getting money for college should be simple. That’s why we created our simplified version of the FAFSA®, in hopes that students could get what they need to continue their education.
To further simplify things, we decided to create a printable checklist to help you prepare for filing your FAFSA®. This checklist includes the necessary documents you need year over year to file for your FAFSA® and here’s what it includes:
Your Social Security Number
Whether this is your first time filing or you’ve done so in the past, your social security number is what lets the government know you are who you say you are. That way, they can make sure the money goes to you and not someone else.
If you don’t have your SSN, ask your parents or contact the Social Security Administration office in your area to find out how to go about getting yours.
Your W-2 Tax Documents
If you worked over the last two years, you probably have a W-2 lying around. A W-2 is what your employers send at the beginning of the tax year so that you can file your taxes.
It’s imperative that you included the information on this document on your FAFSA®. Free aid is directly tied to your income and the income of your family (if you’re a dependent) and lying about your information on the FAFSA® can lead to some unwanted consequences. Make sure you have this on hand before you get started so you can refer to the information it provides.
Your or Your Parents Alien Registration Number (If Applicable)
Similar to an SSN, this is what is needed to determine who you are and whether or not you’re eligible for free aid from the government.
Your Alien Registration Number, also known as your A-Number or USCIS#, is an 8- or 9-digit number that can be found on your Permanent Resident Card (also known as a green card).
If your card has been lost or stolen, you can contact the US Citizenship & Immigration Services office to request a new one.
You AND Your Parents FSA ID Number
The FSA ID tends to cause the most drama when it comes time to file your FAFSA®. Tons of people lose it or get locked out of their accounts. Be sure you keep this information somewhere safe and easily accessible so you can find it quickly every year. You and your parents need to have an FSA ID to complete the FAFSA®, so don’t put off finding them until the last minute.
If you have trouble finding yours or need to request a reset, you’ll have to go to fsaid.ed.gov to retrieve it. Unfortunately, this isn’t something FRANK can help out with.
That is also where you’ll need to head if you need to create one for the first time.
Your Parents Tax Documents
If you’re a dependent student (meaning your parents claim you on their taxes), you will need to include your parent’s tax information on the FAFSA®. They can fill this out on their own or go through it with you — either way, you’ll want to gather all their information so you have it on hand before you start.
The FAFSA® might seem super complicated, but luckily, there are easy ways to prepare so it’s not the massive time suck you expect it to be.
Don’t forget! You can file your FAFSA® FREE with FRANK every year in just a few short minutes.