12 Tips for FAFSA on the Web
FAFSA on the Web at www.fafsa.ed.gov makes it easier than ever to apply for financial aid. It’s also fast – and secure. Plus, your FAFSA will be less likely to contain errors. You’ll find online help for each question, and you can chat with a customer service representative if you need additional assistance. You can save your FAFSA for up to 45 days after each time you open your file so you don’t have to complete the application in one sitting. When you’re ready, your application will be transmitted to the federal processor within seconds. FAFSA on the Web is available around the clock, seven days a week, starting January 1. Don’t have a computer? Look into using one at your school or library.
Before you begin filling out the FAFSA, make sure you have all the necessary documents, and information gathered. You will need your social security number, your driver’s license, W-2 forms, federal income tax returns (for you as well as your parents), the previous years untaxed income records, and bank statements, along with your family’s business and investment mortgage information. The directions on the FAFSA will walk you through each step and explain the information needed.
Here are 12 smart moves for using FAFSA on the Web:
1. Get a PIN at www.pin.ed.gov as soon as possible so you can e-sign your FAFSA for faster processing. One of your parents should also get a PIN, if you’re a dependent student. If you don’t have a PIN, you can still print, sign and mail the signature page within seven days, or wait and sign your paper Student Aid Report (SAR), which will need to be returned before your FAFSA will be valid.
2. Complete the FAFSA on the Web Worksheet. It lists the FAFSA questions in the same order as those on FAFSA on the Web. It’s available starting mid-October from your high school, college or library, on the Web at www.fafsa.ed.gov, or by calling 800.433.3243.
3. Read all the instructions, work through each step and review your FAFSA carefully. Careless errors can delay processing, which could mean missed deadlines and dollars.
4. Make sure your name matches your name as it appears on your Social Security card. Using a nickname or other name will delay processing. If you’ve changed your name, you’ll need to update your records with the Social Security Administration.
5. Be sure to type in “CA” if you’re a resident of California. If left blank, you can’t be considered for a Cal Grant or any other California student aid.
6. Don’t skip the drug question. A drug conviction doesn’t automatically disqualify you for federal aid, but colleges haven’t been allowed to provide federal aid to students who leave this question blank. If you indicate a conviction, you’ll receive a worksheet to determine if your conviction affects your eligibility for federal aid, as well as guidelines on how you can regain your eligibility. Even if you’re ineligible for federal aid, you may still qualify for state, college or private aid.
7. Be sure to list at least one qualifying California college to be considered for a Cal Grant. List the college you’d most like to attend – or the one you’re most likely to attend – first.
8. If you’d like more than six colleges to receive your FAFSA information, you can delete and add colleges on the Web at www.fafsa.ed.gov using your PIN or by calling 800.433.3243. You may want to wait until your first set of colleges has received your information. You’ll find the federal school codes at www.fafsa.ed.gov (Select “Before Beginning a FAFSA,” then “Federal School Code Search”).
9. Print out a copy of your FAFSA for your records before transmitting it. Keep a copy of all worksheets, as well as the financial records you used to complete the FAFSA. Your college may ask to see them.
10. Avoid peak hours. You’ll find faster response times at www.fafsa.ed.gov before 8am and after 8 pm PST.
11. E-sign your application and provide an e-mail address to receive an estimate of your EFC instantly. You’ll also receive a confirmation that your FAFSA was received. Be sure to print and keep the confirmation.
12. Keep your PIN handy. You can use your PIN to check on the status of your FAFSA, correct or print your SAR, or view your federal financial aid history at www.nslds.ed.gov.