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How to Fill Out Your FAFSA

How to Fill Out Your FAFSA

You’ve applied and been admitted to your school of choice, but one weighty question still lingers… how are you going to pay for everything?

The first step to determining how you will get the financial assistance you need to pay for college is to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Each year, FAFSA provides more than $120 billion in grants, loans and work-study funds to help students pay for college or career school.

The FAFSA can also qualify you for scholarships. Some schools won’t consider you for merit scholarships until you’ve submitted a FAFSA, so it’s often worthwhile to complete one even if you think you won’t qualify for federal student aid.

The FAFSA opens Oct. 1 of every year. It doesn’t cost anything to fill out a FAFSA and usually takes less than an hour to complete. You can fill out the FAFSA electronically on the FAFSA website at fafsa.gov, use the myStudentAid app (available in the Apple App Store or Google Play store) or complete a 2022-23 FAFSA PDF form that you can fill out and mail in.

The FAFSA Filing Process

Step 1 – Create an FSA ID

An FSA ID is a username and password combination that allows you to sign your FAFSA® form electronically. It can also be used to access the myStudentAid app, sign loan contracts and access information online. You can create your FSA ID at StudentAid.gov/fsaid.

If you’re a dependent student, one of your parents whose information is reported on the FAFSA form will also need an FSA ID, so he or she can sign your application electronically. This parent must have a Social Security number.

When creating your FSA ID, be sure to enter your name and Social Security number exactly as they appear on your Social Security card.

Step 2 – Gather Identification and Financial Information

The FAFSA asks for information about you and your financial situation. If you are a dependent student, you will need this information for your parents, as well.

  • FSA ID
  • OU Federal School Code: 003184
  • Social Security number or Alien Registration number
  • Driver’s license
  • Bank statements
  • W-2 forms and tax returns from the last two years
  • Records of untaxed income
  • Information about cash, checking or savings accounts, investments, and business and farm assets

Step 3 – Filling Out the Form

Once you have gathered all of the items above, you’re ready to start filling out your FAFSA form.

The first section will ask for demographic data about yourself, such as your name, Social Security and driver’s license numbers, your citizenship and marital status, your state of legal residence and other basic information.

The second section is where you’ll enter tax information for yourself. For the 2022-23 school year, for example, you’ll need information from your 2020 tax returns and W-2 forms. You’ll also enter information about the amount of cash you have, your bank account balances and investment information.

The third section of the FAFSA asks a series of Yes/No questions about you to determine your dependent status. Based on your answers to these questions, you may need to fill out Section 4, where you’ll need to supply tax information for your parent/s. For the 2022-23 school year, for example, you’ll need information from your parent/s’ 2020 tax returns and W-2 forms. Section 5 of the FAFSA asks simple questions about the number of people living in your household.

One of the most important sections of the FAFSA is Section 6. This is where you will enter the Federal School Code for each college or university from which you would like to receive an award letter. OU’s Federal School Code is 003184. While the PDF form will only let you list four school codes, your FAFSA record can list up to 10 school codes online.

The final section of the form is where you, and possibly a parent from Section 4, will sign and date your form. If you filled out an electronic version of the FAFSA, you’ll sign the form with your FSA ID. You’ll then see a confirmation form on the screen, and you’ll receive a confirmation email at the email address you provided while filling out your form. If you’re submitting a paper form, you’ll sign and date the form on the final page. You’ll then mail the form to:

Federal Student Aid Programs

P.O. Box 7650

London, KY 40742-7650

What Happens Next

If you submitted your FAFSA form online, the U.S. Department of Education will process your application in about 3-5 days. Forms that are mailed in will be processed within 7-10 days from the date it is mailed. You can go to fafsa.gov or use the myStudentAid app to review the status of your application by logging in with your FSA ID. You can also contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center to find out if your FAFSA application was processed.

Once your application has been processed, you’ll receive a copy of your Student Aid Report, which summarizes the information you submitted on your FAFSA. You’ll want to review your SAR carefully and correct any mistakes or submit missing information as soon as possible by logging back into your account at fafsa.gov using your FSA ID.

Your SAR will not tell you how much aid you will receive. Instead, it will be sent to the colleges listed on your FAFSA. They will use the information to determine your eligibility for both federal and nonfederal student aid. A school may request additional information from you. It is important to reply to these requests by the deadlines provided by each school. If you have questions about the requirements the schools you listed may have for determining financial aid eligibility, you should contact the school’s financial aid office.

Once a school has determined your aid status, you will be sent an electronic or paper aid offer or award letter. Then, all you have to do is decide which school you want to attend and accept that school’s offer!

If you have questions about financial aid, scholarships, or tuition for any College of Professional and Continuing Studies program, contact our Financial Aid Services department at (405) 325-2929 or by email at onlineaid@ou.edu. For help in filling out the FAFSA form, go to StudentAid.gov/completefafsa or call 1-800-433-3243.

*The information on this page is current for the 2022-23 academic year.

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Myk Mahaffey

Michael Mahaffey holds degrees in journalism and psychology. He is a writer and editor with more than a decade of experience writing for print and digital publications, including award-winning coverage of the rodeo industry. In his spare time, he writes fiction, in addition to tinkering with graphic design and photography.