How to Complete a FAFSA

In recent years, the new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) replaced the paper version of the FAFSA, and it eliminated the time-consuming way of applying for federal financial aid. Completing the new on-line FAFSA is a relatively simple process. The FAFSA on the web is a more convenient way to apply for federal financial aid. Furthermore, It is also a requirement if you wish to be considered for federal financial assistance. Many schools will also require you to complete the FAFSA in order to be considered for school-based financial aid, as well.

Completing the FAFSA is the first step in the financial aid process. When you complete a FAFSA on the web, a Student Aid Report (SAR) is generated. Your SAR will contain your personal information, your income, your parents’ income, and your eligibility status for federal financial aid. This is the report that colleges will use in order to determine a student’s eligibility for school-based financial aid. In determining a student’s eligibility for federal student aid, the financial aid administrator at your school will use the formula, known as the Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

This is a calculation of the amount of money that your family is expected to contribute towards your post-secondary education. The lower EFC, typically 0000, usually means that a student can qualify to receive a full financial aid package, which typically includes a combination of federal grants, student loans, college work-study, and/or scholarships.

How do I complete a FAFSA on the web?

Before you begin the FAFSA, you must first visit the Department of Education’s website at:, in order to apply for a student pin number. The four-digit pin number assigned to you by the U.S. Department of Education will be required in order to electronically sign your FAFSA. You will also be required to enter your pin each time you wish to view your processed FAFSA.

Steps for completing a FAFSA

1. Before beginning a FAFSA-

Gather your income information for the previous tax year, such as w-2’s or completed IRS documents. If you are a dependent student, based on established guidelines, then you will also need your parents’ income and asset information. This information will be used in order to calculate your EFC.

2. Filling out a FAFSA-

An electronic FAFSA can expect to be completed within 45 minutes. To complete an electronic FAFSA, you must visit the website at You must have your U.S. Department of Education pin available when you prepare to complete the electronic FAFSA. The FAFSA is simple, and it requires basic information such as your name, social security number, address, school information, income, and your parents’ income information, if you’re classified as a dependent student for federal financial aid purposes. In this section of the FAFSA, you will be able to:

Complete a FAFSA or corrected FAFSA

Open a saved FAFSA

Electronically sign your FAFSA using your four-digit pin

3. FAFSA follow-up-

Once you have completed your FAFSA, it usually takes 3-5 business days for it to be processed. You will receive an email confirmation that your Student Aid Report is available on-line, or you will receive your SAR by regular mail if you didn’t provide an e-mail address. When you return to the FAFSA website for follow-up on a processed FAFSA, you will be able to:

Check the status of your submitted application

Make corrections to a processed FAFSA

Add or delete school codes

View and print your SAR

To learn more about completing a FAFSA on the web, please visit the official website at: