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