How preparing early can help students and parents file FAFSA® easier

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) opens each year on October 1st. For first-timers, the application can seem intimidating – but it doesn’t have to. By preparing early, you can ensure the accuracy of your application and have the best chance of receiving maximum aid.

Know your FAFSA® deadlines

Depending on the school, state, program of study, your application may have different deadlines for completing your FAFSA®. If you are in your senior year of high school, you should find out when the application process opens on October 1st, complete everything as close to that date as possible.

If you miss a deadline, you should complete the application anyway as you may be able to receive late aid awards.

Get your documents together

There are certain documents that you will need to complete your application. You should work on gathering this paperwork ahead of time so you have it all ready as you go through the process. Here are some of the documents you’ll need to complete your filing:

  • Documentation for you and your parents, or you and your spouse (if married)
  • Social security number or social security card
  • Driver’s license
  • Alien registration number if you are not a citizen
  • W-2 form or IRS tax form 1040
  • Proof of worker’s compensation, child support, veteran’s benefits, etc.
  • Bank statements


Both the parent and student will need to create their own FSA ID. An FSA ID is used to securely prove your identity while signing financial aid documents.  

This username and password will be needed each year FAFSA® is filed, so be sure to save it somewhere secure.

This may sound like a lot of information – and that’s because it is. That’s why it’s important that you not only submit everything correctly but also that you get the application filed with enough time to ensure you get as much aid as possible.