Preparing to File the FAFSA


Learn About The FAFSA

We understand that applying for college and financial aid can feel overwhelming. But don’t worry, we’re here to help guide you through the process. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial step that opens up various financial resources to make college more affordable. Let’s break down what FAFSA is and why it’s so important. 

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid 

The FAFSA is a form that students fill out annually to apply for financial aid for college. Completing the FAFSA is essential because it helps you access federal and state grants, loans, work-study opportunities, and even scholarships. The information you provide on the FAFSA, such as your family’s income, tax details, family size, and financial assets, determines your eligibility for financial aid. 

The FAFSA Gives You Access to: 

1. Federal and State Grants: The FAFSA determines your eligibility for grants like the Pell Grant and Cal Grant, which do not need to be repaid and are vital resources for students with financial need. 

2. Scholarships: Many institutional, state-wide, need-based, and merit scholarships require FAFSA completion as part of the application process. 

3. Federal Student Loans: Federal student loans, which typically offer lower interest rates and more flexible repayment options than private loans, are only available through FAFSA. 

4. Work-Study Programs: The FAFSA allows you to qualify for federal work-study programs, providing part-time jobs to help cover educational expenses while in school. 

Completing the FAFSA annually is essential regardless of changes in your financial situation, ensuring you receive the necessary aid for your college education. 

Eligibility Requirements for FAFSA 

To apply for the FAFSA, students must meet specific eligibility criteria. Here’s what you need to know: 

1. Citizenship Status: You must be a U.S. citizen or an eligible non-citizen, such as a U.S. national or permanent resident. 

2. Enrollment in an Eligible Program: You must be enrolled or accepted for enrollment in an eligible degree or certificate program at a college or career school. 

3. Social Security Number: A valid Social Security number is required for students. 

4. Educational Requirements: You must have a high school diploma, GED certificate, or have completed a high school education in a state-approved homeschool setting. 

5. Satisfactory Academic Progress: To maintain FAFSA eligibility, you must make satisfactory academic progress as defined by your school. 

FAFSA Deadlines and Important Dates 

It’s super important to keep an eye on FAFSA deadlines to get the most financial aid possible. Different states and colleges have their own deadlines, so turning in your application early can really boost your chances of getting aid. Stay ahead of the game and submit as soon as you can! 

1. Federal Deadline: The FAFSA opens October 1st and the deadline for submitting your application is in June. However, the state of California and colleges have earlier deadlines. 

2. State and College Deadlines: California requires students to submit their FAFSA application no later than May 2. It may be beneficial to submit your application as soon as the FAFSA opens because some financial aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, 

3. Early Submission Benefits: Submitting the FAFSA early increases your chances of receiving financial aid since some programs have limited funds. It also gives you time to correct any errors or provide additional documentation if needed. 

Completing the FAFSA is a vital step in securing financial aid for college. By understanding its importance, meeting eligibility requirements, and sticking to deadlines, you can maximize your chances of receiving the financial support you need.  

Start early, stay organized, and use IE Success’ available resources to guide you through the process. Taking these steps will help alleviate the financial burden of college and bring you closer to achieving your academic goals. You’ve got this! 

Creating Your FSA ID 

Creating your FSA ID is a key first step to access federal student aid. Whether you’re a student, parent, or spouse contributing to a FAFSA application, the FSA ID is your digital signature and key to accessing various U.S. Department of Education online services. Let’s walk through the process together! 

What is an FSA ID? 

An FSA ID is a unique username and password used to access U.S. Department of Education online services through It allows you to file your FAFSA, review your federal aid dashboard, and manage any student loans you may have. 

Who Needs to Create an FSA ID? 

Students: All students eligible for federal financial aid must create an FSA ID to complete the FAFSA. 

Parents/Guardians: At least one parent or guardian must create an FSA ID if their information is required on the FAFSA. 

Spouses: Independent students who are married may need to include their spouse as a contributor, requiring an FSA ID. 

Required Information for Creating an FSA ID 

To create your FSA ID, you will need: 

  • Full name 
  • Date of birth 
  • Your own email address (each contributor must have a unique email) 
  • Your own phone number (optional but highly recommended) 
  • Social Security Number (for students and parents with an SSN) 
  • Permanent address 

Steps to Create Your FSA ID 

1. Visit Go to and select “Create Account” at the upper right-hand corner of the page. 

2. Enter Personal Information: Provide your name, date of birth, and Social Security Number exactly as they appear on your Social Security card. 

3. Create a Username and Password: Follow the guidelines to create a unique username and password. Each person must create their own account. 

4. Verify Email and Phone Number: Enter your personal email address and mobile phone number, then verify them using the codes sent to you. 

5. Set Up Challenge Questions: Choose challenge questions to help unlock your account if you forget your password. Make sure the answers are easy for you to remember but difficult for others to guess. 

Important Tips

Use Personal Email: Avoid using a school email address as it may be disabled after you graduate. 

Save Your Information: Keep your username, password, backup code, and challenge questions in a secure place. 

Enter Accurate Information: Ensure there are no typos or errors when entering your name, date of birth, and Social Security Number. 

Common Issues and Solutions 

Mobile Number Already in Use: Contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC) if your mobile number is associated with another account. 

Incorrect Personal Information: Double-check that your name, date of birth, and Social Security Number are entered correctly. 

Creating an FSA ID for Someone Else: Each person must create their own FSA ID to avoid errors and confusion. 

Creating an FSA ID Without an SSN: If you don’t have a Social Security Number, you can still create an FSA ID through a knowledge-based ID verification process. This is applicable to contributors such as a student’s spouse or parent without an SSN. Follow the on-screen instructions and contact FSAIC if you need further assistance. 

Accessing Federal Student Aid: Creating your FSA ID is a crucial first step in accessing federal student aid. By following this guide, you can confidently set up your FSA ID and begin your journey toward achieving your educational goals.  

Here are some key tips: 

Keep Your FSA ID Secure: Make sure to store your FSA ID information in a safe place to prevent unauthorized access. 

Seek Help if Needed: If you encounter any issues, contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center for assistance. If you’re a student, you can also reach out to the California Student Aid Commission for additional support or visit 

Start your journey to financial aid today by visiting and creating your FSA ID.  

For more resources and support, visit the Federal Student Aid Information Center or check out the FSA Financial Aid Toolkit

Filing The FAFSA

Step 1: Create a Account 

To start, you need to create a account. This account will be your gateway to accessing and completing the FAFSA. Here’s what you need: 

  • Social Security Number (SSN): You’ll need your SSN unless you are a citizen of the Freely Associated States. 
  • Account for Contributors: Make sure your contributors (such as your parent(s) or spouse) create their own accounts too. 

Step 2: Invite Contributors 

A “contributor” is anyone required to provide information on your FAFSA form. This could be your parent(s), guardian or spouse. When inviting contributors, you will need to provide the following information about them: 

  • First and Last Name 
  • Social Security Number: Contributors who do not have an SSN can still create a account to complete their section of the FAFSA. 
  • Date of Birth 
  • Email Address: If contributors don’t have an SSN, you’ll also need their mailing address. 

Step 3: Gather Necessary Documents 

Before you begin filling out the FAFSA, gather all the necessary documents. Having these on hand will help you complete the form in one session. You may need the following as you fill out the FAFSA form: 

  • Tax Returns 
  • Records of Child Support Received 
  • Current Balances of Cash, Savings, and Checking Accounts 
  • Net Worth of Investments, Businesses, and Farms 

If you’re a dependent student, you will need a parent/guardian to sign up for an FSA ID (What is an FSA ID?) to share necessary tax returns or financial records, access information about your financial aid, or update their information on your FAFSA.  

Step 4: Fill Out the FAFSA 

With your account set up and documents ready, you’re all set to fill out the FAFSA. Make sure to complete the form in one session to avoid any disruptions or potential loss of information. 

By following these steps and being well-prepared, you can ensure a smooth and efficient process in filling out your FAFSA.