Tips on filing for FAFSA


FAFSA photo illustration

Annabelle White

The window to fill out the Federal Application for Financial Student Aid (FAFSA) has opened, and, with state budget cuts, that De. 1 deadline has become even more crucial.

Oct. 1 was the first day that students at Iowa State could file their FAFSA. Roberta Johnson, the director of student financial aid, said it’s “very crucial students get their FAFSA in on time.”

Missing that deadline may jeopardize consideration for aid based on the funds that are remaining. For those who had financial aid, such as the ISU Grant, or want to be considered for work study, FAFSA must be submitted no later than Dec. 1.

Some get help from their parents while others may feel like they are on their own. Either way, it can be a confusing and frustrating process. Here are some steps to follow when you finally sit down and decide that it needs to be done.

Before filling it out

To fill out FAFSA, you must have your social security number, the social security number of your parents or guardians and driver’s license (if available). International students will also need the student alien registration or permanent resident card, and theirs or their parent’s 2016 tax information.

Student information

Use an email address that you use and check often. It’s easy to enter the wrong numbers and get emails later that tell you to correct your FAFSA.

To avoid this read the instructions carefully to understand what they’re asking for. Whenever there is a question asking about “you” that is always referring to the student.

Make sure you understand what they’re asking before you start filling it out. The first page asks for student demographic information, like your SSN, address, birth date, telephone number, etc. There are always people available to help at the Financial Aid Office at 0210 Beardshear Hall.

Parent information

You’ll be using the tax information from 2016 for the 2018-2019 FAFSA. After completing the student portion of the FAFSA you will be asked what your dependency status is, then move into the parent demographics.

The questions will be similar to the student information portion — your parent’s relationship status, email, who the student lives with, etc. You or your parent can fill this out.

“Make sure your parents have your pin so they can complete the FAFSA with their electronic signature, and make sure you submit it,” Johnson said.

Students sometimes think they’ve finished the FAFSA when they haven’t. Make sure you get a confirmation email from ISU and pay attention to your email for any updates.

After Submission

Iowa State should contact you to acknowledge receipt of FAFSA information. The email will tell you if you need to provide any extra information.  

Sometimes you may need to submit extra forms, such as the parent/student institutional verification form or the parent/student federal tax return.

Johnson stresses that you need to get these papers in on time, and that you should check the FAFSA status on Access Plus. The financial aid office can answer any questions you have when it comes to your financial aid status. If it is all done correctly, you will soon be notified of what aid you are eligible for.