While the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form is the student’s application, we know that parents often play a large role in the process. After all, students who are considered dependent have to provide parental information on the FAFSA form anyway and must have a parent sign it. While we recommend that the student start his or her own FAFSA form, we know that’s not always what happens. With that in mind, we wanted to provide instructions for parents who are starting the FAFSA form on behalf of their child so you can avoid running into issues completing the form.
If you are a parent completing the FAFSA form for your child, follow these steps:
An FSA ID is a username and password you use on Federal Student Aid websites such as fafsa.gov and StudentLoans.gov. If your child is considered a dependent student, two unique FSA IDs are needed to complete the FAFSA form online:
We recommend that you and your child register for FSA IDs ahead of time, so you don’t experience delays later in the process.
IMPORTANT: Your child must create his or her own FSA ID. You cannot create an FSA ID for your child. Also, when you register, you’ll be asked to provide an email address and mobile phone number. This is optional, but highly recommended. These two items must be unique to each account. In other words, your email address and mobile phone number cannot be associated with more than one FSA ID.
You and your child should create your FSA IDs now at StudentAid.gov/fsaid.
Your FSA ID serves as your legal electronic signature throughout the federal student aid process. Do not share your FSA ID with anyone, not even your child. Your child should also not share his or her FSA ID with you. Keep your FSA ID information in a safe place. You’ll need it to renew your FAFSA form each year and to access federal student aid information online.
IMPORTANT: The FAFSA® form is the student’s application, not yours. When the FAFSA form says “you” or “your,” it’s referring to the student. Pay attention to whether you’re being asked for student or parent information. When in doubt, the banner on the left side will indicate whether you’re on a student (blue) page or parent (purple) page.
Here’s where you’ll enter basic demographic information about your child, such as name, date of birth, etc. If you chose the FAFSA renewal option in step two, a lot of his or her personal information will be pre-populated to save you time. Make sure you enter your child’s personal information exactly as it appears on his or her Social Security card so you don’t encounter any errors. (That’s right, no nicknames.)
In the School Selection section, you’ll add all the schools you want to receive your child’s information. It is important that you add every school your child is considering, even if he or she hasn’t applied or been accepted yet. It doesn’t hurt to add more schools; colleges can’t see the other schools that have been added. In fact, you don’t even have to remove schools if your child later decides not to apply or attend. If your child doesn’t end up applying or getting accepted to a school, the school can just disregard his or her FAFSA form. You can remove schools at any time to make room for new schools. You can add up to 10 schools at a time. If your child is applying to more than 10 schools, here’s what you should do.
In this section, you’ll be asked a series of specific questions to determine whether or not your child is required to provide your (parent) information on the FAFSA form.
This is where you’ll provide your own demographic information.
Are you divorced? Remarried? Here’s a guide to determining which parent’s information needs to be included on your child’s FAFSA form:
For specific guidance, visit the “Reporting Parent Information” page on StudentAid.gov.
In this section, you’ll first be asked to provide parent financial information. This step is incredibly simple if you use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT), which returned with the 2018–19 FAFSA form on Oct. 1, 2017, with additional security and privacy protections added. The IRS DRT allows you to import your IRS tax information into the FAFSA form with just a few clicks. Using this tool also may reduce the amount of paperwork you need to provide to your child’s school. So if you’re eligible, use it!
To access the tool, indicate that you’ve “already completed” taxes on the parent finances page. If you’re eligible, you’ll see an option to “Link to IRS.” Choose that option and follow the prompts.
Next, you’ll likely be asked to provide your child’s financial information.
NOTE: If you need to save and exit your dependent child’s FAFSA form so he or she can complete the remaining information, you’ll need to log back in and sign your child’s FAFSA form before your child can submit it.
You’re not finished with the FAFSA form until you and your child sign it. The quickest and easiest way to sign your child’s FAFSA form is online with your FSA ID. If your child is not present, after you sign your child’s FAFSA form with your FSA ID, save and exit the application and instruct your child to log into fafsa.gov to sign and submit his or her FAFSA form.
Sign and Submit Tips:
You’re finished. What’s next?
Congrats on finishing! Your child is one step closer to getting money for college.
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