The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is a one-stop application for all types of federal financial aid, like subsidized and unsubsidized loans, grants and work-study arrangements. According to FAFSA's official website, many schools, colleges and lenders also use your FAFSA information to determine your eligibility for state, school and even private aid. The application process may be relatively simple -- you can complete your FAFSA online -- but for many students, figuring out how to pay for college can make or break their education ambitions. It pays to have your ducks in a row before you begin. That means knowing what you need to apply -- and where to turn if you need help.
What Information Do I Need to Complete my FAFSA?
Knowing what you need to complete your FAFSA can save you a lot of time and frustration, especially if you are pushing the June 30 deadline. Have the following information on hand before you begin:
- Your Social Security Number (or Alien Registration Number if you are not a U.S. citizen)
- Your most recent federal income tax return and supporting documents, like W-2s
- Bank and investment statements
- Records of untaxed income, if applicable
Keep in mind that unless you qualify as an independent student, you must also provide much of this information for your parents or legal guardian(s). You can review eligibility requirements for independent status online or by contacting FAFSA directly for clarification. If you wish to file and sign your FAFSA application electronically, you will also need a Federal Student Aid PIN. You can get yours online by visiting the Federal Student Aid PIN website.
I Need Help With My FAFSA! What Do I Do?
Have a question about your FAFSA? Fret not: There are several ways to get help with your application. Start by visiting the FAFSA's online help page to find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the application process. If you cannot find the help you need online, try contacting a FAFSA representative directly through one of these methods:
- Call the official FAFSA phone number: 1-800-4-FED-AID
- Hearing-impaired students, call the FAFSA TTY line phone number: 1-800-730-8913
- Visit FAFSA's online help page
- Live chat with a FAFSA customer service representative online (via the help page linked above)
- Email: FederalStudentAidCustomerService@ed.gov
FAFSA Customer Service is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST. If you submit your question by email, allow at least one full business day for a response.
Other Sources of FAFSA Help
The FAFSA phone number, website and email address listed above can connect you with a FAFSA representative, but there are other ways to find help with your application. If you are in high school, make an appointment with your school guidance counselor or academic advisor. College students, swing by your campus financial aid office. The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administration also hosts workshops nationwide that provide students with free professional FAFSA help.
1. College Goal Sunday, USA Funds, http://www.collegegoalsundayusa.org
2. FAFSA Help, Federal Student Aid, U.S. Department of Education, https://fafsa.ed.gov/help.htm
3. Free Application for Federal Student Aid, Federal Student Aid, U.S. Department of Education, https://fafsa.ed.gov/index.htm
4. PIN Website, Federal Student Aid, U.S. Department of Education, https://pin.ed.gov/PINWebApp/pinindex.jsp