FAFSA Tutorial Step #2: Student Demographics

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Once you select the method to file your FAFSA, it’s time to fill in information about you (the student). You should keep in mind, even if your parents or a preparer are helping you with the FAFSA application, the application belongs to the student. Meaning, any references to “you” or “your” are references to the student.

The first page is easy. Make sure you complete the fields for your name and date of birth. Not to sound like a broken record, but here is another reminder-- MAKE SURE YOUR NAME MATCHES EXACTLY WHAT IS ON YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY CARD. When the U.S. Department of Education processes your application, they will actually compare the information you provided with the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) database. Meaning, if your information does not match what the SSA has on file, your FAFSA will be flagged and require a correction.

Social Security Number

Your social security number (SSN) on the web application will automatically populate from your FSA ID. If you complete a paper copy, a missing SSN will result in a return of an unprocessed application.

Students without a social security number:

  • If you are a resident of the Freely Associated States (the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, or the Federated States of Micronesia), and this is your first FAFSA application, enter “666” as your first three digits. The federal processor will assign the remaining six digits when your FAFSA application is processed.  Once you are assigned a number you can use it for future FAFSA applications. 
  • If you do not have a social security number, but you are an eligible non-citizens, you will enter your Alien Registration Number.   
  • For those with a “work-only” SSN issued through the Federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy or a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN), then you are not eligible for federal financial aid. You should check with your school to see which financial aid applications they would like you to complete. Your school may ask you to still complete the FAFSA in order to award you other types of financial aid. If your parent does not have a SSN, this will not affect your eligibility for aid. 

Permanent Mailing Address

When you are asked to provide your permanent mailing address, you want to make sure to put down the address you use for your legal documents like, tax returns, voter registration, etc. It is likely not your school residence address, unless you have gone through the steps to change your address.

If you don’t have an address (if you are homeless or living in a transitional housing situation), then you should contact your financial aid advisor at your college for additional assistance.

If your mailing address is in Mexico, Canada, military installation or U.S. territory, you should enter that address and use  00000 as the zip code.

State of Legal Residence

The next question will ask you if you have lived at the state you have indicated for at least 5 years. This is to determine your state of legal residence. If you indicated “Yes” then the FAFSA will let you move on to the next question. If you answer “No” it will ask you to indicate your state of legal residence.

This question is asked to help determine if you qualify for in-state tuition or other types of state financial aid. Each state will have their own criteria when it comes to determining whether or not you are a resident. And some states will allow children of active duty members to qualify as state residents.

If you are a dependent student, your state of legal residence if usually the state where your custodial parent lives.

Phone Number and Email Address

You will be asked to provide a phone number and email address. It is best to provide both, that way your college financial aid office and/or the U.S. Department of Education if there are any issues with your FAFSA. Your email address will be used to send you information about your FAFSA, your Expected Family Contribution in your Student Aid Report, as well as updates, reminders, and other types of financial aid application information.

Driver's License Number

Enter your driver’s license number, if you have one. You are not required to complete this section for financial aid, so no need to stress if you do not have one.

Marital Status

The FAFSA will ask you your marital status, as of today. Because it is looking for information of your current status (as of the day you are completing the FAFSA), you do not report any future plans of marriage, separation, or divorce.

If you are currently married or remarried, the FAFSA will require information of your spouse. If you answer that you are single, separated, divorced, or widowed, the FAFSA will not ask questions (or require information) of a spouse.

If you are separated, informal separations are okay, as long as you and your spouse live separate lives and live in separate households. Living on different floors in the same household does not qualify.

Eligibility Questions

The next set of questions will determine your eligibility. They include:

Eligibility Question More Information
Are you a U.S. citizen? This is to determine if you are eligible for federal financial aid
What will your high school completion status be when you begin college in the 2019-2020 year? This is to determine if you have earned (or will earn) a high school equivalency status. Choose the options which applies to you (High School Diploma, GED or state authorized high school equivalent certificate, Homeschooled, or None of the above. If you answered none of the above, you may still be eligible if you meet other Ability-To-Benefit (ATB) Alternatives, such as passing an independently administered Department of Education approved ATB test or completing 6 college credits. If you indicate you will have or have a high school diploma, you will be asked to identify your high school.
What will your college grade level be when you begin the 2019-2020 school year? Grade level is a question which will help determine your eligibility for certain financial aid programs. keep in mind, grade level does not mean the number of years you have been in college, it is the grade level you are considered by your school. for example, your annual loan limits, and possibly your eligibility for certain federal grants.
What degree or certificate will you be working on when you being the 2019-2020 school year? This is to determine if you are eligible for federal financial aid
Will you have your first bachelor’s degree before you being the 2019-2020 school year? The type of degree or certificate you are working on will help determine your eligibility for certain financial aid programs. this is a drop-down menu choice, if none of the options apply you can choose “other/undecided”.
Will you have your first bachelor’s degree before you being the 2019-2020 school year? This question will help determine our eligibility for certain financial aid programs. for example, federal pell grants are not available to students who have already obtained a bachelor’s degree. only answer “yes” if you have or will have a bachelor’s degree by july 1, 2019.
Are you interested in work-study? Work-study, as we discussed in the basics, if a type of earned aid. it provides jobs for undergraduate and graduate student with financial need, which will allow them to earn money to help pay for educational expenses. answering “yes” now does not obligate you to get a work-study job if you are offered one.
Are you a foster youth or were you at any time in the foster care system? You have three options to choose for this question: yes, no, or don’t know. if you “don’t know” you should contact your state child welfare agency.

Parent(s) highest education received will also be asked. Choose the answer which applies for your parent(s). This is asking specifically for information regarding your birth or adoptive parents, not your stepparents, guardians, or foster parents.

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