By Megan Lehr
on October 1, 2022
The FAFSA for the 2023-2024 school year opened October 1st and it’s best to file as soon as possible to improve your chances of qualifying for the most grant, scholarship, and work-study aid. If you’re returning to college you may be familiar with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, but in case you are not, it’s a form you will fill out every year to give your college, state, and the federal government the information they need to help you pay for college. The FAFSA can feel overwhelming, but these five tips will help you conquer every step of the process!
Before You Get Started
Create your FSA ID
Your FSA ID serves as your legal signature.You will use it to access all federal student aid websites throughout your time in college. To create one, go to studentaid.gov and click on “Create Account.” We recommend that you verify your email and phone number. This way, if you ever forget your password, you can easily request a recovery code be sent via email or text and avoid losing access to your FAFSA in the process. Check out uAspire's FSA ID guide for help.
Collect all necessary information
The 2023-2024 FAFSA requires your 2021 tax information, so gathering you and your family’s tax packet early in the process will help it go more smoothly. You should grab your 1040 tax form, plus any schedules that were filed, as well as any W2s from that year. If your family does not file taxes, you should gather any documents that provide information about jobs worked and income earned in 2021. Here is a link to our handy checklist that will help you keep track of the info you need.
Use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT)
When you’re ready to begin answering questions in the FAFSA, you may be given the option to use the IRS DRT. This is a useful tool that will pull your tax information from the IRS database, making the process easier and quicker. We definitely recommend using this option if you can! If you can’t use the IRS DRT and need to report your financial information manually, remember to pay attention to the year referred to in each question, as some questions will ask about information from 2021 and others will ask about the present day.
Double-check before submitting
This step is crucial to save time and avoid needing to make corrections later. Before submitting the FAFSA, you’ll see a page that lists all of your answers. Review these to make sure you haven’t made any mistakes, so you won’t have to return to make changes later.
Sign and submit the FAFSA
Don’t forget to use your FSA ID to sign and submit the FAFSA! If you were required to include parental information, one parent will also need to make an FSA ID and sign the FAFSA (or send a signature page in the mail). Without both of your signatures, the FAFSA cannot be processed.
Completing the FAFSA may seem daunting, but when you keep these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to an affordable postsecondary education in no time!
For more FAFSA resources, visit https://www.uaspire.org/For-Students#FAFSA.