How To Fill Out The FAFSA

Nobody cherishes "free" more than an undergraduate student. By completing the FAFSA, you can get more than complimentary T-shirts and slices of pizza: You can get money to pay for tuition and related college expenses. The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is the essential form that the government and schools use to grant stipends, grants, work study and loans. Scholarships and grants are free, however you need to pay back any loans you take out from the government or school.

Here's an breakdown of how to start and finish the application. Depending on your circumstances, you might not need to complete each step.

  1. Make your FSA ID.

  2. Add FAFSA due dates to your date-book.

  3. Assemble the records you need (bank statements, W-2 forms, tax records, and your social security number).

  4. Start answering the FAFSA's questions, and use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool if you can't find the information you need.

  5. Put down the universities you're applying to.

  6. Reach out to your Money Mentor if you need help finishing up your FAFSA!

  7. Hold on to your documents because your FAFSA won't automatically renew itself. You'll have to fill it out again each year that you're in college!

Once you've gotten your financial aid package, look it over carefully and show it to your Money Mentor, who can help you figure out how much money you'll have to pay back if you accept that offer. You can also negotiate your financial aid package and send an appeal letter to the school asking them to reconsider what they've offered. Ask your Money Mentor for help writing your letter!