The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as the FAFSA, is an important application that provides financial options for students and their families to help fund their college education. Arizona has committed to increasing the number of high school seniors who complete the application by establishing a state FAFSA completion rate goal of 52% for the current high school senior class of 2021. The state has also created the Arizona FAFSA Challenge which highlights high schools throughout Arizona for their FAFSA completion efforts.
Each year, the FAFSA provides more than $120 billion in financial aid to students who complete the free application. By completing the FAFSA, students can access various forms of federal aid which include, grants, work-study, and student loans. It is also important to remember that the FAFSA may also be required for some scholarships and merit-based aid. The process can seem intimidating, but here are 5 steps to help you complete the FAFSA in less than 45 minutes.
Create an FSA ID Account
Before you begin the FAFSA, you will need to create an FSA ID. The FSA ID is a username and password unique to you and used to e-sign the FAFSA. You and your student each need to create your own FSA ID at fsaid.ed.gov. Only one FSA ID is needed for parents because only one parent needs to sign. Have your Social Security Number and personal email handy to complete the requested information. It only takes 5 minutes to set this up, including creating security questions and answers to use in the future if you ever forget your password (like I do all the time).
Start the Application Online
The 2021-22 FAFSA application is available at the official government site: FAFSA.gov. On average, it takes about 40 minutes to complete the FAFSA online. The application can also be completed by downloading the MyStudentAid app on your mobile phone.
Locate Your 2019 Tax Information
If you did not have to file taxes in 2019, having a copy of your 2019 W-2 forms or other records of income earned will be helpful in completing the FAFSA. If you have completed your 2019 tax return, the IRS Data Retrieval Tool will simply transfer your 2019 income and tax information into the FAFSA form.
Select the Schools You Want
Students can choose up to 10 colleges they plan to attend to send a FAFSA. The schools receive the necessary information to calculate financial aid eligibility. Keep in mind, the student must submit a college admissions application and FAFSA to each college that they are interested in attending in order to receive an award letter from each institution.
Sign the Application
Don’t forget to sign the application! It will be incomplete if it is not signed by both student and parent. You can e-sign it using your FSA ID. The confirmation page will let you know when it is submitted. Parents without a social security number can print, sign and mail in the signature page.
Need Additional Help?
Still need help? Students and parents can visit the following website collegegoal.az.gov/resources for a list of Free FAFSA resources and assistance from various postsecondary institutions and community partners throughout Arizona.
The best resource for more information about Federal Student Aid programs is studentaid.ed.gov. You can visit the website to see what questions are trending and learn about any new changes to the application process each year.
Don’t Miss Your College’s Priority Filing Deadline!
Ask your preferred colleges and universities what their priority dates are to ensure your student meets any upcoming deadlines. Listed below are the filing dates for Arizona’s three public universities.
FAFSA Priority Deadlines
|Arizona State University||January 15, 2021|
|University of Arizona||March 1, 2021|
|Northern Arizona University||November 15, 2020|