If you’re applying for federal financial aid, you’ll need to start with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
The FAFSA application is the #1 most important application for getting financial aid for college or career training programs—and it’s the only way to access federal student grants and loans. So it’s important to get the application right. And it’s easy too. The average family takes less than 1 hour to file their FAFSA!
Need help with your FAFSA application?
Watch our Facebook Live event to walk through the application question by question with VSAC's FAFSA expert Carrie Harlow.
7 Steps to Submitting Your FAFSA Application
Follow these 7 steps to help make sure you’re submitting your online FAFSA application correctly:
- Create a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID (username and password). You’ll need this in order to complete your FAFSA —and to be able to log in to any other FSA borrower websites. If you’re financially dependent on your parents, a parent will need to create his or her own, separate FSA ID.
To create your FSA ID, go to fafsa.ed.gov. Click on "Start Here" under "New to the FAFSA Process?" and follow the prompts.
- Gather your information. Being prepared will make the FAFSA application process easier—and faster. Here’s what you’ll need to have on hand for yourself, your spouse (if you’re married) and/or your parents (if you’re a dependent student):
- Social Security number
- Alien registration number (if you’re not a U.S. citizen)
- federal tax returns, including W2s (Applying for the 2020–2021 college year? Use 2018 income information.)
- Records of untaxed income (like child support)
- Bank records (cash, savings, checking account balances)
- Investment information (such as stocks/bonds not in a qualified retirement plan, or investment property)
- Your colleges: You must list at least 1 college to receive your information. You may update your choices later to receive aid at a different school.
- Start a new FAFSA application. With your FSA ID in hand, start your application at fafsa.ed.gov. Follow the instructions to fill out your application. You’ll see “Help and Hints” on the site throughout the application process. Refer to these whenever you have a question.
- Submit your FAFSA application as early as possible. Most colleges and scholarships have application deadlines that you can find on their websites or in their printed materials. Though there are deadlines you need to be mindful of, you do not want to wait to apply. Some aid is awarded on a first come, first served basis. Don’t miss out!
Important: Select the correct school year when applying and be sure to sign with your FSA ID so your FAFSA will be processed as quickly as possible (If you are dependent, one parent will need to sign with their FSA ID as well).
- Look for a confirmation page. After you sign and submit your FAFSA, you should see a confirmation page. If you don’t see this confirmation, double check that you’ve clicked the submit button. If you provided an email address, you will receive a copy of the confirmation page by email. Be sure to keep your confirmation number with your other important financial aid information. You’ll also see a link on the confirmation page that will bring you to VSAC’s website to complete Vermont's grant application.
- Review your Student Aid Report (SAR). Depending on how you submit your FAFSA application, you will receive your SAR by email or mail within 1 day to 3 weeks. Be sure to review your SAR carefully to verify all the information is accurate.
- Make any needed corrections to your FAFSA application. If you find incorrect information on your SAR, go to fafsa.ed.gov. Look for "Returning User" and click the log-in button. Once you've logged in, click on“Make FAFSA Corrections.” Follow the instructions for correcting and resubmitting your FAFSA application.
Are there special circumstances not listed on the FAFSA—for example, income changes, high unreimbursed medical expenses, or changes to your family situation? Communicate these to your college financial aid office and to the Vermont Grant program at VSAC.
Questions about the FAFSA? We’re here to help. Call VSAC at 1-800-882-4166 or email us at email@example.com.
You can also learn more about the FAFSA by visiting fafsa.ed.gov or by calling 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243).