FAQs: Filling Out a FAFSA
- What records do I need to complete my FAFSA?
- What do I need to keep in mind when filling out the FAFSA?
- Why is it important to submit accurate information?
- What if I am unable to provide my parents’ information, their income information and signature, due to special circumstances?
- Can I apply for aid using Corrections on the Web?
- What is a PIN for?
- How do I save an incomplete FAFSA?
- How do I open a saved FAFSA?
- How do I electronically sign my FAFSA?
Have more questions? There are more questions and answers in the FAFSA FAQs section of FAFSA on the Web.
What records do I need to complete my FAFSA?
In order to successfully complete a FAFSA, you will need information from one or more of the documents listed on the Documents Needed page.
What do I need to keep in mind when filling out the FAFSA?
- The words “you” and “your” always mean the student.
- The word “school” means a college, university, graduate or professional school, community college, vocational or technical school, or any other school beyond high school.
- Round to the nearest dollar and do not use commas or decimal points.
- For dates, enter numbers that correspond to the month, day, and year. For example, for November 7, 1981, enter 11071981
- 2009-2010 FAFSA questions that refer to the “school year” mean the school year from July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2010.
- Do not mail tax forms or Worksheets to Federal Student Aid.
- Check with your financial aid administrator if you have unusual circumstances.
Why is it important to submit accurate information?
WARNING: You must fill out this form accurately. The information that you supply can be verified by your school, your state, or by Federal Student Aid.
You may be asked to provide U.S. income tax returns and other information. If you cannot or do not provide these records to your school when asked, you may not get federal student aid.
If you get federal student aid based on incorrect information, you will have to pay it back. You may also have to pay fines and fees. If you purposely give false or misleading information on your application, you may be fined $20,000, sent to prison, or both.
What if I am unable to provide my parents’ information, their income information and signature, due to special circumstances?
Under Federal law your family is primarily responsible-to the extent they are able-for paying for your college expenses. To determine how much your family can afford to pay towards your college expenses, we must collect your financial information and if you are a dependent student, we must also collect your parents' financial information.
Under very limited circumstances, an otherwise dependent student may be able to submit the FAFSA without parental information due to special circumstances. Before you proceed to skip the parental section of your FAFSA, consider the following:
Examples of special circumstances where you may be able to submit your FAFSA without providing parental information include:
- Your parents are incarcerated; or
- You have left home due to an abusive family environment; or
- You do not know where your parents are and are unable to contact them (and you have not been adopted).
Not all situations are considered a special circumstance. The following are situations that would not be considered a special circumstance:
- Your parents do not want to provide their information on your FAFSA; or
- Your parents refuse to contribute to your college expenses; or
- Your parents do not claim you as a dependent on their income taxes; or
- You do not live with your parents.
If you believe you have a special circumstance and are unable to provide parental information, you should complete information about you and your finances and skip any questions about your parents. You should sign your FAFSA with your PIN and leave your parent's PIN blank. It is important to note:
- We will allow you to submit your FAFSA without parental information, however your FAFSA will not be considered complete.
- Because your FAFSA is not considered complete, we will not calculate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) which is the index used by colleges to determine how much student aid you are eligible to receive.
- If you are approaching any deadlines for your state, college, or scholarship aid, you may want to contact your financial aid administrator (FAA) before submitting your FAFSA without parental data.
- Once you submit your FAFSA without parental data, you must follow up with the FAA at the college you plan to attend, in order to complete your FAFSA and receive an EFC. Also note the following:
- Under Federal law, only your FAA has the authority to decide whether or not you must provide parental information on your FAFSA.
- You will have to provide documentation to verify your situation. Gather as much written evidence of your situation as you can. Written evidence may include court or law enforcement documents, letters from a clergy member, school counselor or social worker, and/or any other relevant data that explains your special circumstance.
- After reviewing your circumstances carefully, your FAA will decide if you must provide parental information or if your circumstances allow you to proceed without providing parental data. Your FAA’s decision is final and can not be appealed to Federal Student Aid.
Can I apply for aid using Corrections on the Web?
No. You cannot use Corrections on the Web to apply for financial aid. You must use FAFSA on the Web to apply for financial aid.
You can, however, use Corrections on the Web to make corrections and updates to information you submitted on your FAFSA.
What is a PIN for?
See the PIN FAQs for more information about what the PIN can be used for.
How do I save an incomplete FAFSA?
You can save your information at any point in the application. To save your application, click the SAVE button at the bottom of any FAFSA page. Do not use the Save commands that are built into the browser.
Your saved application will be automatically deleted after 45 days or after the federal application/correction deadline date has passed. Select Application Deadlines on the home page for more information.
How do I open a saved FAFSA?
To open your saved FAFSA:
- Select Open Your Saved FAFSA or Correction Application under the Filling Out a FAFSA section of the home page.
- Select the school year and type of application, then Next.
- Enter your:
- Social Security Number,
- Last name,
- First name,
- Date of birth,
- The password you entered when you created the initial FAFSA
An “Application Not Found” page will display if we can’t find your application in our database. If you think you’ve entered incorrect information, select “Try Again” to re-enter it.
If the information you’ve entered is correct but we do not have a FAFSA, you must start a new one.
If you cannot remember your password, select forgot my password at the bottom of the Application Restore Login page. Enter the information required to verify your identity and select Next. Upon creating a new password and selecting Next, you will be taken to the last page you were on when you saved your application or correction form.
Alternatively, you may contact Customer Service to have your password reset.
How do I electronically sign my FAFSA?
You can sign your FAFSA electronically with a PIN. A PIN is a 4-digit number that is used in combination with your Social Security Number, name, and date of birth to identify you as someone who has the right to access your own personal information on Federal Student Aid Web sites, such as FAFSA on the Web.
If you or your parents do not already have a PIN, we encourage you to apply for one. You can apply for a PIN while completing a FAFSA on the Web application, or you can go to the Federal Student Aid PIN Web site at www.pin.ed.gov to apply.
Important Note: A PIN that is selected or viewed instantly online or is sent to you in an e-mail is considered to be conditional until your information is verified with the Social Security Administration (1-3 days from the date you first apply). You may sign your FAFSA with it while in the application, but nothing else. If you did not sign your application electronically while filling it out, and you try to sign it later from the FAFSA on the Web home page, you must wait until we verify your information with the Social Security Administration. Once we complete this verification, you will be able to use your PIN for signing your application from the home page and for other purposes (such as correcting your SAR).
When you have your PIN, follow these steps to sign your FAFSA:
- Select Sign Electronically With Your PIN under the “Filling Out a FAFSA’ section of the home page.
- Select the school year of the application you want to sign.
- Indicate whether you are signing as a parent or as a student.
- Confirm your identity by providing your Social Security Number, first two letters of your last name, your date of birth and your PIN number.
- Enter the necessary information about the student if you are signing as a parent.
- If you do not receive a confirmation page and number at the end of the process, then we have NOT received your electronic signature.
You can check the status of your FAFSA after you submit it by selecting Check Status of a Submitted FAFSA or Print Signature Page under the FAFSA Follow-Up section of the home page.
Additional Notes on Signing Electronically
If you are a dependent student, you and a parent must both sign your application. You and your parent can sign your FAFSA electronically with a PIN, print and sign a paper signature page, or use a combination of both.
If you are an independent student, only your signature will be collected.
If you are a graduate health profession student, you may be required to provide information about your parents, even if you are independent. However, a parent’s signature is not required. If you are unsure whether your course of study is considered a graduate health profession program, contact your financial aid administrator.