FAFSA Requirements

scholarships and the FAFSAStudents who hope to utilize federal funds for their college educations will need to begin by filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Here, they’ll provide information about their financial health, and the wealth of the family as a whole, and they’ll outline where they plan to go to school. There’s a lot of information involved, and not surprisingly, many students give up on filling out the form before the work is complete. For example, in 2012, 4 percent of high school students started to fill out the form and gave up before they were done, according to the American Institutes for Research. Perhaps, if these students studied up on FAFSA requirements, they’d be less likely to ditch the work before it’s completed.

Typical Records Required

Much of the FAFSA is devoted to information about a student’s identity and citizenship status. As a result, students are required to provide:

All of this information can help administrators to determine whether or not the student is a resident of the United States, and the information might also be provided to help check on the student’s financial background and history.

In addition to records concerning identity, the FAFSA demands a significant amount of information regarding finances. Much of this information can be pulled from that year’s tax forms, but students should also be prepared to know the balances of their checking accounts, savings accounts, bond accounts, stock market accounts and more, and they’ll need that same information from parents.

Financial Aid

Obtaining a FSA ID

A FSA ID is what you use to electronically apply for federal student aid each year. It also serves to give you access to your Federal Student Aid records online and should be kept safe and not shared with anyone.

In order to create a FSA ID, which serves as your electronic signature and provides access to your personal records, you must enter your personal information on the FSA ID website. You can also reset your password if you have forgotten it from the same website.

Signature Page

The document generated by the FAFSA on the Web that contains your name, address, student ID, type of application completed, and a randomly generated identification number is called your signature page. You can print, sign, and mail your FAFSA application with your signature page in order to verify the accuracy of your information provided. It is faster to use your FSA ID and sign your FAFSA electronically, however.

Signing the signature page certifies that you agree to provide information to verify the accuracy of your FAFSA, that you agree to use your federal funds for education purposes only, and that you are not in default on a federal loan or owe any overpayments for federal grants. You can be sent to prison, fined up to $20,000, or both for purposely providing false information on your FAFSA.


There are several deadlines to be aware of when filing your FAFSA. These deadlines exist on the federal and state level, and your individual college may also have FAFSA deadlines for filing. Different colleges may have different rules about deadlines as well – for example, some consider the deadline the day they receive your FAFSA, and others may consider the deadline date the day the FAFSA is fully processed. Applicants need to be aware of all deadlines. To find out about deadlines set by your state and federal agencies, you can check on the Federal Financial Aid deadlines page.

The federal processor begins processing applications after January 1st, so in order to ensure you meet all deadlines, consider filing early. Much of the federal financial aid is distributed on a first-come first-serve basis, so there are many benefits to filing early.

Moving Through the Process

girl with book in the grassBy now, most students are at least aware of what a FAFSA is. For example, a report produced by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education found that 64 percent of all Minnesota students enrolled in undergraduate programs applied for aid with a FAFSA. But knowing that the form is out there, and even filling out the form in the past, doesn’t guarantee current success. The form is complicated, and there are some specific tips and tricks students should keep in mind.

For example, the FAFSA requires students to list at least one college they’re considering. Those students who are hoping to change schools, but who haven’t quite decided where they’d like to go, can’t just guess or leave the field blank. They’ll need to put the name of a school here.

Similarly, students are required to go through a series of questions that help them to determine whether or not they’re considered financially independent. These questions can seem intrusive or redundant, particularly for students who have filled out the form in the past, but it’s a vital part of the application process and it can’t be skipped.

It’s also important to remember that the FAFSA must be filled out each and every year. The information isn’t held over from one year to another, and the data a student enters in one year doesn’t impact decisions made in the next. When January rolls around, students simply must fill out the form again.

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