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FAFSA FAQs

Trending FAFSA Questions

No. You never have to pay to complete a FAFSA, just like you should never pay to search for college scholarship search. After all, the first "F" in FAFSA stands for FREE.

For a full list of FAFSA Basic Eligibility Requirements, click here.

For a list of documents and information needed to complete your FAFSA, click here.

The FSA ID allows students and parents to identify themselves electronically to access Federal Student Aid websites. It contains a username and password and can be used to log into the online FAFSA. You are not required to have an FSA ID to complete and submit a FAFSA form, but it is the fastest way to sign your application and have it processed. It is also the only way you can access or correct your FAFSA online, or to prefill an online FAFSA with information from your previous year's FAFSA form.

States, schools, and the federal government each have their own FAFSA filing deadlines. Make sure to research all three and complete your FAFSA by your earliest deadline. Being that some types of financial aid are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, it is best you complete and FAFSA as early as possible.

No. You can begin your FAFSA as early as October 1, which is when the application opens each year. In order to receive the funds, you will need to be accepted to and enrolled in an accredited college or university.

Eligible students and parents can utilize the IRS Data Retrieval Tool when completing a FAFSA, which transfers your tax return information into your application with the following steps:

  • Click Link To IRS
  • Enter your FSA ID
  • Your FAFSA will be saved and you will be transferred to the IRS Web site.
  • On the IRS Web site, enter the requested information exactly as it appears on your tax return.
  • Once authenticated with the IRS, you will be provided with information surrounding your IRS tax information.

If you have an FSA ID, use it to sign your application electronically. When signing with an FSA ID, your FAFSA application will likely be processed within 3-5 business days. To sign electronically, click Log In button on the FAFSA on the Web home page to log in, and then click the Provide Signatures button. You can also opt to hand-sign or skip signing your FAFSA application.

Online FAFSA applications are processed 3-5 days and paper FAFSAs are processed 7-10 days.

  • After filing, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) detailing the FAFSA data you submitted. Ensure all the information on your SAR is accurate and that no information is missing.
  • Your SAR will include your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC determines your eligibility for a Federal Pell Grant, and the college uses the EFC to assess your eligibility for other federal and nonfederal student aid.
  • Each college to which you are accepted will notify you of how much financial aid you will receive. Some schools may take a shorter time than others to notify you of this.

Timing may vary from college to college depending on factors such as when you submitted your FAFSA and the number of FAFSA forms the college has to process. Please note that listing a college on your FAFSA form is generally not sufficient to receive aid at that college and that you should contact the financial aid office at the college you plan to attend for information about applying for aid at that college.

To make corrections to your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), click the Log In button on the home page and log into FAFSA on the Web, and then click Make FAFSA Corrections. When making corrections, you can: add or remove colleges from your application, change your e-mail or mailing address, and correct any field in your FAFSA other than your Social Security Number (SSN).

  • Go to fafsa.gov
  • Click the Log In button and enter your FSA ID on the left. Only you should know or use your FSA ID.
  • Select View or Print your Student Aid Report (SAR) from the "My FAFSA" page.

Click Log In on the FAFSA on the Web home page to log in; your FAFSA status can be found on the "My FAFSA" page, which displays immediately after you log in if you have already started or completed a FAFSA. To check on the status of financial aid being disbursed to you or your account, check with the financial aid office at your college.

Yes. Your eligibility for federal financial aid can differ each year for various reasons, including your family's financial situation or the number of family members enrolled in college. If you filled out a FAFSA last year and want to renew it, go to fafsa.gov, click "Login", and be sure to select "FAFSA Renewal" once given the option.

Federal Student Aid for Non-U.S. Citizens

No. Undocumented students, including DACA students, are not eligible for federal student aid. However, you may be eligible for state or college financial aid, in addition to scholarships for undocumented students.

It depends. In some states, undocumented students, or specifically DACA students, are eligible to receive in-state tuition or scholarships for TPS/DACA students. Check with your high school or your college or career school's financial aid office.

No, it does not. In fact, the FAFSA form does not even ask about your parents' status.

Federal Student Aid for Homeless/Formerly Homeless Youth

Yes. While completing your FAFSA, you will be asked whether you are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless and "unaccompanied." For more answers to questions regarding Federal Student Aid and Homeless Youth, click here. There are also scholarships for homeless students/formerly homeless students as another means to help pay for college.

Maybe. Once you answer "yes" to the general homelessness question on the FAFSA, you will be asked whether you have received a homeless youth determination. If you indicate that you have, the financial aid administrator at the college you plan to attend may request the determination to prove that you are "unaccompanied" and homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. You should contact one of the following individuals to ask if they can provide you with a homeless youth determination:

  • Your high school or school district homeless liaison.
  • The director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  • The director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program In some cases, the individual listed above may only be allowed to make a homeless youth determination if you are receiving his or her program's support or if, in the case of a school district homeless liaison, you are in his or her high school or high school district.

Federal Student Aid for Students with Divorced/Separated Parents

The U.S. Department of Education created this infographic to help students identify the FAFSA-defined version of their family tree.

Here's a general breakdown for students with divorced or separated parents as they complete a FAFSA:

  • If you parents are not divorced, you fill out the FAFSA with details from both of them.
  • If you parents live together - whether they are separated, were never married, or are divorced - you file the FAFSA for both of them.
  • If your parents are divorced, separated, or were never married and do not live together, you fill out the FAFSA based on your custodial parent. That is the parent you physically live with more than the other.
  • If you live with both parents equally, you fill out the FAFSA based on the parent who gave you more financial support in the last year.
  • If your parents do not live together and your custodial parent or your parent who supported you financially has gotten remarried, you have to report your step-parent's information (as opposed to your non-custodial or non-financially supportive parent).
  • If your biological or adoptive parent simply lives with a new significant other and is not legally married, you only report your legal guardian's information.

Knowing the specifics about your family situation will help simplify the process when it comes to applying for college financial aid. Regardless of your parents' marital status, you will need to share the same information as other students, including:

  • Your Social Security Number
  • Your Parents' Social Security Numbers
  • Your driver's license number
  • You alien registration number if you are not a citizen
  • Federal tax information for you and your custodial parent/reporting parent
  • Information about untaxed income like child support received by your reporting parent
  • Information on cash and liquid assets in accounts, investments, and business income
  • Date of divorce or separation
  • Copy of divorce agreement

Federal Aid for Students with Criminal Convictions/Incarcerated Individuals

If you are in a federal or state institution:

  • You cannot get a Federal Pell Grant or federal student loans.
  • You can get a Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) and Federal Work-Study (FWS), but you probably will not because priority for FSEOGs must be given to those students who also will receive a Federal Pell Grant (for which you’re not eligible), and because the logistical difficulties of performing an FWS job while incarcerated would likely be too great for you to be awarded FWS funds.

If you are in an institution other than a federal or state institution:

  • You cannot get a Federal Pell Grant or federal student loans.
  • You can get a Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) and Federal Work-Study (FWS), but you probably won’t because priority for FSEOGs must be given to those students who also will receive a Federal Pell Grant (for which you’re not eligible), and because the logistical difficulties of performing an FWS job while incarcerated would likely be too great for you to be awarded FWS funds.

Yes. If you are on probation or parole or living in a halfway house, you may be eligible for federal student aid. If you were convicted of a drug-related offense or if you are subject to an involuntary civil commitment for a sexual offense, your eligibility may be limited.

Yes. Your eligibility might be suspended if the offense occurred while you were receiving federal student aid (grants, loans, or work-study). For more information on drug convictions and federal student aid, click here.

If you have been convicted of a forcible or nonforcible sexual offense, and you are subject to an involuntary civil commitment upon completion of a period of incarceration for that offense, you cannot receive a Federal Pell Grant.

Federal Aid for Students with Intellectual Disabilities

Yes. You may receive funding from the Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, and Federal Work-Study programs, under the following conditions:

  • You are enrolled or accepted for enrollment in a comprehensive transition and postsecondary (CTP) program for students with intellectual disabilities at an institution of higher education (a college or career school) that participates in the federal student aid programs.
  • You maintain satisfactory academic progress.
  • You meet the basic federal student aid eligibility requirements, except that you are not required to have a high school diploma or GED and are not required to be pursuing a degree or certificate.

Federal Aid for Students Who Are (or Have Been) in Foster Care

No, the U.S. Department of Education does not specfically provide a federal financial aid program for students who are (or have been) in foster care. However, students can receive money for college via Educational and Training Vouchers for Current and Former Foster Care Youth and scholarships for adopted/foster child/orphan individuals.

Once you are in college or career school, make sure to stay on track toward graduation. Don't forget to also fill out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form every year.

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Last Reviewed: November 2019