Complete the FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step in the financial aid process.

When you complete the FAFSA, you apply for federal grants and federal student loans.

The sooner you fill out your FAFSA, the better. Many types of financial aid are distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis, so it’s to your advantage to file as early as possible. Check with your college and file in time to meet the earliest deadline.

You must complete a FAFSA every school year.

Get Your FSA ID

Visit http://www.fafsa.ed.gov
  1. Get a Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID) for both you and one parent. Each of you needs your own separate FSA ID. You use the FSA ID to “sign” your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) electronically.
  2. Answer all of the questions and follow the prompts to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.  Submit!
  3. If you indicate on your FAFSA that you are a New York State resident, interested in a college in New York State, you can complete your TAP application at the completion of your FAFSA by selecting start your state application. Complete your TAP-on-the-Web application.

Gather This Information

  • Student’s social security number. Have the card to ensure number is correct.
  • Parents’ social security numbers. Have the cards to ensure number is correct.
  • Parents’ dates of birth.
  • Student’s driver’s license number, if student has one.
  • Student’s Permanent Alien Registration Number, if not a U.S. citizen.
  • Copy of student’s 2015 Federal Income Tax Return.
  • Copy of parent's 2015 Federal Income Tax Return.
  • Records of student’s untaxed income for the following sources of income:
    • Child support payments received in the student’s name
    • Interest income
    • Veterans non-education benefits
    • Social security benefits in the student’s name
  • Records of parents’ untaxed income for the following sources of income:
    • Child support payments received for all children
    • Interest income
    • Veterans non-education benefits
    • Untaxed portion of pension benefits
    • Untaxed portion of IRA distributions
    • Workers’ compensation benefits
    • Disability benefits
    • Social security benefits
  • Your Federal Student ID (FSA ID), if you have them already
  • A valid email address, if you have one

  • Use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool

    Using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool makes completing the FAFSA easier.

     

    What Happens Next

    • You’ll get a Student Aid Report (SAR) summarizing your FAFSA and indicating your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Review it and make any corrections needed.
    • Watch for email notices. HESC will email news to you about your TAP application and award status or ask for more information.
    • After you are accepted at college, you’ll get an award letter from your college showing the financial aid you can expect if you attend that school. Consider the options outlined in the letter including grants, scholarships, loans and work-study programs.
    • Talk to a financial aid professional at the college if you have any questions about your financial aid award letter. You should accept or decline the aid package by the deadline and complete any other forms required by the school.

    Following Up

    FAFSA follow-up is available at www.fafsa.ed.gov. This site provides resources for managing your FAFSA, including allowing you to:

    • Check status of a submitted FAFSA or print signature page which is available one week after submission if you used an FSA ID to sign your application, and two to three weeks after submission if you printed, signed and mailed a signature page.
    • View and print your Student Aid Report (SAR)
    • Make corrections to a processed FAFSA
    • Add or delete a school code

    Apply for Aid Each Year You’re in College

    Remember, you need to complete the FAFSA not just once, but every year you plan to attend school. If you filled out a FAFSA the year before, you can probably use the shorter Renewal FAFSA and TAP application.

    Beware!

    Watch out for organizations that charge a fee to submit your application. You can fill it out for free.

    Be wary of organizations that charge a fee to find you money for school. Some are legitimate and some are scams.

    Generally, any financial aid information help that you are asked to pay for can be received free from your college financial aid office and HESC.