FAFSA Information and Completion Tips
What is the FAFSA?
The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It is the form that the federal government uses to determine your eligibility for federal aid. This aid can include grants, scholarships, work-study and loans.
Why complete the FAFSA on the Web?
Completing your FAFSA on the Web can speed up the FAFSA process. Using the Web version of the FAFSA can cut down on postal service delays. It also allows the federal processor to do a "final check" of your information to make sure your FAFSA is ready for processing before it is submitted. The FAFSA is available online at www.studentaid.gov.
Which FAFSA should I complete?
The 2019-2020 FAFSA, which became available on October 1, 2018, will be used for the Fall 2019, Spring 2020, and Summer 2020 terms. For the 2019-2020 FAFSA, you will use your 2017 income information on the application.
The 2020-2021 FAFSA, which will become available on October 1, 2019, will be used for the Fall 2020, Spring 2021, and Summer 2021 terms. For the 2020-2021 FAFSA, you will use your 2018 income information on the application.
Tips for Completing the FAFSA
- The FAFSA becomes available each year on October 1st. Be aware of this and complete the FAFSA as soon as possible. Since funds are limited at many schools, early submission of the FAFSA maximizes your chances of receiving some types of aid. Wichita State's priority date is December 1st of the year prior to beginning school.
- Submit the FAFSA whether or not you think you qualify for gift aid.
- Review all of your data on the FAFSA every year. Your eligibility can change from year to year, depending on your family's circumstances.
- Contact your college's financial aid office for additional information. Your school may require additional forms or may have an earlier submission deadline.
- If you applied for financial aid last year, you might qualify for a Renewal FAFSA, which has fewer questions and pre-filled information fields.
- If you have any questions, call 1-800-4-FED-AID.
7 Easy Steps to the FAFSA: Student's Guide to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid
Click on the picture for a step-by-step instructional video for completing your FAFSA.
Before You Complete the FAFSA on the Web
Can I save my FAFSA on the Web?
If you don't have immediate access to a printer or you are worried about keeping your internet connection while online, you can save your FAFSA application online by clicking the Save button at the bottom of each step. Saved steps will be stored for 45 days. (You should also print a completed FAFSA for your records. You can print just before you click the submit button at the end of your FAFSA on the Web.)
Be sure you remember the password that you entered at the beginning of your application. If you forget it, you cannot look it up. You will have to start your FAFSA again from the beginning.
How do I sign a FAFSA on the Web
Whether you complete a paper or electronic FAFSA, you will be required to provide your signature (and parent's signature if you are a dependent student).
There are several ways to complete this signature:
- Use your FSA ID to electronically sign your FAFSA. (Note that your parents will need their own FSA ID to electronically sign your FAFSA.)
- Print off the signature page, get the required signatures and mail the form to the address listed on your signature page.
- The third option is the slowest and is not recommended. You can wait until you receive your Student Aid Report (SAR), get the required signature(s) and then return it to the federal processor through the U.S. Postal Service.
What is an FSA ID?
The Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID is the code that the U.S. Department of Education uses to identify you online. You do not need an FSA ID to complete your FAFSA on the web. However, having an FSA ID will allow you to electronically sign your FAFSA, check the status of your electronic FAFSA and/or make any changes necessary to your personal information online. Using an FSA ID as your signature for the FAFSA can speed up your processing time. It is important to keep your FSA ID private because it allows you (or someone else) to electronically sign documents and access confidential information. Treat it as you would treat your bank/credit card codes.
How do I get an FSA ID?
Students and parents who are eligible to receive an FSA ID can visit https://fsaid.ed.gov to "Create an FSA ID".
5 Most Common FAFSA Mistakes
- Do not leave a field blank. Use a zero if the question does not apply to you.
- Remember to report ALL required sources of untaxed income.
- Use the 1040 Federal tax return for reporting income and taxes paid, not the W-2.
- Include yourself in household size, even if you didn't live there the previous year.
- Sign the application. If you are filing as a dependent student, make sure your parents sign, too.
After You Have Completed the FAFSA
- Read your Student Aid Report (SAR) carefully. The SAR is the official record that proves the federal processor received your FAFSA. If you find any errors on your SAR, you should report them to your college's financial aid administrator to ask how you should make corrections. Unresolved errors could impact your federal aid awards.
- Call the federal processor at 1-800-433-3243 if you do not receive your SAR in 4-6 weeks. Be ready to provide your name, social security number and date of birth for verification.
- Check if your SAR has been selected for verification. Look under the date (on the top right corner) for the letters EFC, followed by a series of numbers. If there is an asterisk (*) after your EFC (Expected Family Contribution), your SAR has been selected for verification. That means that your college will compare your SAR with documents, including tax transcripts, that verify your financial status. If asked, submit the information requested to your college's financial aid office as soon as possible. Your aid may be delayed or decreased if the materials are not provided promptly.
What If My Family's Financial Situation Has Changed Since We Completed the FAFSA?
- If your family has experienced a reduction in income, a change in marital status, or other special circumstances, please contact our office. We will work with you to document the changes to your family income situation and make changes to your FAFSA if necessary.