The FAFSA, Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is the online Federal application PCA&D and most colleges use to determine financial aid. It's also required for federal student loans.
Students may begin to file the 2018-2019 FAFSA starting October 1, 2017. Filing annually is required for financial aid, and filing as early as possible will allow more time to get your aid in place. Students applying and accepted to PCA&D will receive their financial aid information beginning in January. PCA&D returning students' financial aid award letters will still be distributed starting in May, after academic progress is determined.
Start the application
If you are starting the application for the first time, go to fafsa.gov and click on "Start A New FAFSA." As you begin, keep the following in mind:
- Your name and Social Security number must match those on your Social Security card. Follow this tip to avoid getting a notice that your information doesn’t match the Social Security Administration’s records (or your FSA ID account).
- If you’re concerned about providing your personal information on the log-in page, choose the virtual keyboard option for additional security.
- Near the beginning of the application, you’ll create a “save key,” a temporary password that you’ll use if you start your FAFSA form, save it without finishing it, then want to open it again later to finish it. One benefit of the save key is that students and parents can use this function to access the FAFSA form if they are completing the FAFSA in separate locations. (Unlike with the FSA ID, which needs to be kept private, it’s okay to tell your parent what your save key is.)
If you filled out a FAFSA form last year and want to renew it, click “Login” on the fafsa.gov home page, and be sure to select “FAFSA Renewal.” That way, many of the (nonfinancial) questions will be pre-filled for you. Just be sure to update any information that has changed since last year.
Determine Your Dependency Status
The FAFSA form asks a series of questions that determine whether you are a dependent or independent student for purposes of applying for federal student aid. If you are a dependent student, you must report parent information, as well as your own information, on your FAFSA application. More information about dependency status.
Report Parents' Information
If you’re a dependent student, you’ll need to report parent information on your FAFSA form. Visit our page on reporting parent information to find out who counts as your parent, what to do if you don’t live with your parents, and what to do if you don’t have access to your parents’ financial information. Here are some additional tips for parents.
Provide Financial Information
The FAFSA form asks for financial information, including balances of savings and checking accounts and information from tax forms.
- If you are filling out the 2017–18 FAFSA , you will need 2015 tax information. (Starting with the 2017–18 application, you now need to report income information from the tax year two years prior to the academic year. Learn more about the 2017–18 FAFSA process.)
- The 2018–19 FAFSA form, which will be available Oct. 1, 2017, will ask for 2016 tax information.
Transfer Tax Information Using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool
The IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) automatically transfers tax information into the FAFSA form. Learn about the spring/summer 2017 outage of the IRS DRT, how you can access your tax information without it, and how you can fill out your FAFSA form without the IRS DRT.
Sign and Submit the FAFSA® Form
Before your FAFSA form can be processed, you’ll need to sign and submit the application. Here are some tips as you finish your FAFSA form:
- Be sure to sign with your FSA ID (your username and password) so your FAFSA form will be processed as quickly as possible. (If you log in to the form by providing your FSA ID, you won’t be asked for it again when it’s time to sign. However, if you’re providing parent information, one of your parents will be required to sign your application.)
- Once you see your confirmation page, you’ll know you’ve successfully submitted your FAFSA form. If you provided an email address on the form, you’ll automatically receive the confirmation page by email. There are a few differences between the emailed confirmation and the one you’ll see on fafsa.gov before exiting the application, so consider printing or saving your confirmation page before you exit. For example, the emailed confirmation won’t include the college graduation, retention, and transfer rates for schools you listed on your FAFSA form.
- When you fill out the FAFSA form, you might be also automatically applying for certain state financial aid. In some cases, the state requires an additional application in order to determine your eligibility for state aid. There are some states that have a partnership with the FAFSA that allows you to transfer your information directly into your state aid application, so if you see a link from your FAFSA confirmation page to your state financial aid application, you should click on it. (Please note that the link won't appear on the emailed confirmation page, so be sure to take advantage of it while you're still at the original confirmation page.)
- Your confirmation page offers the option for the parent information in your FAFSA form to be transferred automatically into another student’s application. So if you have a sibling who needs to fill out a FAFSA form, be sure to use this option when you see your confirmation page. (Please note that the link won't appear on the emailed confirmation page, so be sure to take advantage of it while you're still at the original confirmation page.)
If you have any questions, please ask. Dave Hershey, PCA&D's Director of Financial Aid can be reached at 717-396-7833 X 1013 or firstname.lastname@example.org.