Applying for Aid

Steps to Applying for Aid

  • Obtaining an FSA ID
  • Gathering the Documents Needed to Apply
  • Starting Your FAFSA® and Providing Your Basic Personal Information
  • Listing Colleges and/or Career Schools
  • Determining Your Dependency Status
  • Reporting Parents’ Information
  • Providing Financial Information (Before or After Filing Taxes)
  • Determining When Tax Information Will Be Available Via the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT)
  • ​Signing and Submitting the FAFSA

Create an FSA ID
As of May 2015, the Department of Education opted to replace the Personal Identification Number (PIN) with the Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID),  an electronic access identifier, which will give you access to the various Federal Student Aid online systems and can serve as your legal signature.

You can only create an FSA ID using your own personal information and for your own exclusive use. You are not authorized to create a FSA ID on behalf of someone else, including a family member. Misrepresentation of your identity to the federal government could result in criminal or civil penalties.

Using the FSA ID to "sign" your FAFSA application electronically will allow it to be completed entirely online and expedite the process rather than mailing a signature page. Your electronic signature holds the same legal status as a written signature. To protect the privacy of the information you are submitting, you must keep your FSA ID secret. If you have not created, or have lost or forgotten, or if you think someone else knows your FSA ID, you can create or reset your FSA ID at:
You can use your FSA ID to:

  • File your FAFSA/Renewal FAFSA online
  • Use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to transfer income information from the IRS database to your FAFSA application
  • Sign your FAFSA electronically
  • View your processed information and access your Student Aid Report (SAR)
  • Make corrections to your application
  • Access the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) website and view information about other federal student aid you may have received and your Lifetime Eligibility Usage percentage
  • Complete various Federal Direct Loan processes;
    • Electronically sign a Master Promissory Note
    • Entrance Counseling
    • Exit Counseling
Gathering the Documents Needed to Apply
To complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) application, you will be required to provide information such as, legal name, social security number, date of birth, address, etc., and your financial situation.

For a complete list of documents required to complete both applications, please refer to this link for academic year 2018-2019 or 2019-2020.
Determining Your Dependency Status
The federal student aid programs are based on the concept that it is primarily your and your family’s responsibility to pay for your education. Because a dependent student is assumed to have the support of parents, the parents’ information has to be assessed along with the student’s, in order to get a full picture of the family’s financial strength. If you’re a dependent student, it doesn’t mean your parents are required to pay anything toward your education; this is just a way of looking at everyone in a consistent manner.

How do I know if I am a Dependent or an Independent student?
These questions are used to determine, whether you are a dependent or an independent student for the FALL 2018 - SPRING 2019 and FALL 2019 - SPRING 2020 academic year.

Click here for a visual chart regarding the above questions.

Common FAFSA Errors
Making a mistake on the FAFSA can delay the processing of your application, because it takes an additional 2-3 weeks to process a corrected application.  Some of the common errors are outlined below:
  • Inputting Incorrect Information
    • Legal Name
    • Social Security Number
    • Date of Birth
    • Alien Registration number if you are not a U.S. Citizen
  • Not Providing Parental Information
  • Not Providing Correct Marital Status
  • Not Using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool
  • Not answering all questions on the FAFSA
  • Not Signing the FAFSA
Assistance with filling out your Financial Aid Applications
For those who would like assistance with filing the FAFSA and TAP applications or making corrections, Feel free to also visit our Micro Lab located in room D-B102 directly across the hallway from the Office of Financial Aid. Our dedicated staff is available to assist you with the applications and any questions or concerns you have about the process.  
Additional Resources: