The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application officially opened on Oct. 1.
For many college students, the FAFSA form is one of the most important forms to fill out to receive financial aid, including scholarships, grants, work-study and loans. All students are encouraged to apply — even if you don’t think you’re eligible.
Here’s what you should know about filling out the FAFSA form this year.
Apply online at fafsa.gov.
WHAT DOCUMENTS WILL I NEED?
Once you’ve created your online ID, it’s time to gather all your necessary documents.
- • Your Social Security number and your parents’ Social Security numbers if you’re a dependent
- • Driver’s license number if you have one
- • If not a U.S. citizen, have your permanent resident card handy
- • Your 2020 federal tax information for yourself, your spouse if married, and your parents if a dependent
- • Any records of untaxed income like child support, interest income and veteran noneducation benefits
- • Information on cash, which includes savings and checking account balances and investments
DO I HAVE TO LIST THE SCHOOLS I WANT TO ATTEND?
Yes, you should list any school you plan on applying to or have already applied to — even if you haven’t been accepted yet. Washington State University’s FAFSA code is 003800. That number is the same at every campus in the WSU system.
In the form, you must list at least one school that will receive your information, and the schools you list will use your FAFSA information to determine how much aid you could receive.
DO I HAVE TO INCLUDE MY PARENTS’ INFORMATION?
If you’re a dependent student, yes.
You must provide information on both your parents whether or not they are married to each other if they live together. If your legal parent is widowed or never married, then answer questions about that parent. If your parents are divorced or separated and do not live together, you must answer questions about the parent with whom you lived over the past 12 months. If you lived with both parents the same amount of time, provide information about the parent who provided more financial support. For those who have stepparents married to their legal parent, you must provide information on them as well. If you don’t live with any parent, you must still provide information about them.
WHAT IF I’M UNABLE TO PROVIDE MY PARENTS’ INFORMATION?
If you can’t provide parent information because of circumstances like your parents are incarcerated, you have left home because of an abusive environment or don’t know where your parents are, you can still fill out the form.
However, your form won’t be fully processed and you will not receive an Expected Family Contribution and you must contact your WSU’s financial aid office. You should also gather as much information as possible regarding your situation.
WSU’s financial aid staff will work with you to determine how much aid you can get.
WHAT IF MY FAMILY’S FINANCIAL SITUATION HAS CHANGED SINCE DOING OUR TAXES?
Some FAFSA applicants may have recent financial changes because of the pandemic or other reasons. If you find yourself in this situation, complete and submit the FAFSA form like normal, then contact the WSU financial aid office to discuss how your situation has changed. The WSU financial aid team may be able to adjust your financial aid award based on your family’s current income.
WHAT ARE THE DEADLINES TO FILL OUT THE FORM?
Submit the FAFSA as soon as possible. The form opens on Oct. 1, and the federal deadline is June 30.
However, WSU has a Jan. 31 deadline for the general scholarship application, so it’s always best to complete it as soon as possible