Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the FAFSA?
- What will I need in order to file?
- How will I know that my FAFSA has been processed?
- Can I apply for aid if I haven't yet completed my taxes?
- My parents aren't helping me pay for college. Am I considered independent?
- I have completed and submitted the FAFSA; what happens next?
- Should I wait until after I have been admitted to file financial aid forms?
- I'm going to be married during the school year for which I am applying for aid. Can I fill out my FAFSA as "married"?
- If my parents are divorced or separated, whose financial data should be used when I'm completing the FAFSA?
What is the FAFSA?
The federal government's Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) provides us with complete, consistent financial data analyzed within policy established by the government. The federal government does not award financial aid; individual schools do, based on the analysis of information provided by you on this form.
- Your federal tax return (include spouse if married)
- Your W-2s
- Your parents' federal tax return (if you are dependent)
- Your parents' W-2s (if you are dependent)
- FAFSA form if you are filing on paper
- Pin number for electronic signature if you're filing electronically
- Records of any other income received (welfare, social security, child support, VA Benefits, etc.)
- Current balances of checking and saving accounts and other investments
- Business/farm records (if applicable)
- Alien Registration Card if not a US citizen
How will I know that my FAFSA has been processed?
You will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) generated from the information you provided on the FAFSA from the federal government. Within seven to ten days after you receive the SAR, we will receive the same information electronically. Keep the SAR for your records or a copy of the SAR if you must submit corections.
Can I apply for aid if I haven't yet completed my taxes?
Yes, you may complete the FAFSA using estimated income. We may request a copy of your completed tax form, all associated schedules and W-2s at a later date.
My parents aren't helping me pay for college. Am I considered independent?
Even if your parents don't contribute money toward your education, you are considered a dependent of your parents unless you:
- Will be 24 years old before January 1 of the academic year, (for example, 24 years old before January 1, 1984, for the 2007-08 academic year;
- Are an orphan or were a ward of the court until age 18;
- Are a veteran;
- Currently serve on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training;
- Will be working on a master's or doctorate program or graduate certificate;
- Are married; or
- Have a legal dependent other than a spouse that you support more than 50%.
See the FAFSA application if you have a legal guardianship, if a court has declared you an emancipated minor, or if you have been considered an unaccompanied youth or homeless.
I have completed and submitted the FAFSA; what happens next?
You will receive confirmation that your FAFSA data has been processed in the form of a Student Aid Report (SAR). The school(s) listed on your SAR will notify the student if any other information is required to complete the financial aid process. The school will determine your eligibility for financial aid and notify you in writing or electronically. The notification you receive is commonly known as an Award Letter or Notification of Financial Aid Eligibility.
Should I wait until after I have been admitted to file financial aid forms?
No! You should list any colleges to which you have applied on the financial aid form, even though you haven't been admitted yet. If you submit your FAFSA by mail, there is a turnaround time of four to five weeks after you mail the FAFSA before colleges receive your information from the federal processing center. (If you submit your FAFSA electronically, the turnaround time is two to three weeks.) If you wait until you are admitted, you may not receive an award letter until much later. Since grant funds are limited at most institutions, consideration for aid is given first to those whose documents are submitted within the appropriate time frame.
I'm going to be married during the school year for which I am applying for aid. Can I fill out my FAFSA as "married"?
No. You must indicate your marital status as of the date you are completing the FAFSA. You cannot update your marital status once you have filed your FAFSA.
If my parents are divorced or separated, whose financial data should be used when I'm completing the FAFSA?
If your natural parents are separated or divorced, use the natural parent with whom you lived the most in the past 12 months. If you lived with neither parent, or lived with each parent an equal number of days, use the parent that provided the most financial support to you over the past 12 months. If that parent has remarried, you must also include the stepparent's financial information on the application, and parent and stepparent should report themselves as married on the FAFSA.
You have been living with your mother and stepfather for the past 12 months. You would use your mother's income and stepfather's income, and you would report on the FAFSA as the number in family: yourself, your mother, your stepfather, and any other children that they support. You also would report your mother's marital status as married.
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