Tips & Tools

Tips for Completing the FAFSA

  • File the FAFSA online – it’s the fastest way.
  • Get a FSA ID and complete the FAFSA as soon as possible after October 1st.
  • Make sure you have what you need to complete the FAFSA.
  • Use the IRS data retrieval tool on the FAFSA website. Have your 1040 federal tax return as a backup.
  • Use whole dollar amounts, e.g., $1,749.86 should be rounded up to $1,750.
  • Do not skip questions or leave any blanks.
  • Know your deadlines and file early. Smart FAFSA filers complete the form as close to October 1 as they can.
  • New Yorkers who applied at a NYS college: look for a link start your state application on the confirmation page.
  • Complete the FAFSA every year you attend college.  

Especially For Students

  • Use your legal name as it appears on your Social Security card. Nicknames or aliases will cause a processing delay.
  • Read the questions carefully. “I,” “you” and “your” always refer to the student, not the parents.
  • To be considered a veteran, you must have served on active duty and been discharged under other than dishonorable conditions. If your service was only for training purposes (e.g., National Guard or Reserves, or ROTC), you are not considered a veteran for your federal financial aid application.
  • Remember to count yourself, the student, as one of the people in your household who will be college students during the award year.

About Your Parents

  • Both you and your parent need your own separate FSA ID.
  • If your parents are divorced or separated, the parent with whom you lived the most during the past 12 months is the parent responsible for filling out the FAFSA. This is not necessarily the parent who has legal custody.
  • If the parent responsible for completing the FAFSA has remarried, the new spouse must report their income and assets on the FAFSA.

Things to Consider

  • A legal dependent is a person for whom you provide and will continue to provide more than half of their support, including money, gifts, loans, housing, food, clothing, automobile, medical and dental care and payment of college costs.
  • If you have a child who is supported by your parents or someone else, you should answer "no" to the question that asks about legal dependents other than a spouse.
  • If you have an unborn child who will be born before or during the award year (July 1 through June 30) and will be your legal dependent, that child should be counted as a member of the household.
  • Taxable earnings from work-study jobs as well as any grant or scholarship monies that were reported on your income tax return are counted.
  • Prepaid tuition plans are not reported as assets on the FAFSA.


Frequently Asked Questions
FAFSA Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have questions about the FAFSA? Look here for frequently asked questions for the answers
Toolbox for Students
Toolbox for Students
Here are some tools you can use to help with your FAFSA.
Videos about the FAFSA, financial aid, and how to pay for college.