Preparing for the FAFSA: A Guide for ParentsOctober 28, 2019
Updated July 20, 2022
If you’re preparing to send your student off to college, you’ve probably thought a lot about financial aid. Check out our FAFSA guide for parents here to learn more about what the FAFSA is and get FAFSA login instructions for parents.
When Should You Submit the FAFSA?
You and your dependent children should submit the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, each academic year to apply for federal financial aid for college. Types of aid include grants, work-study programs, student loans and more.
College admissions officers recommend that you complete the FAFSA application even if your child may not need financial aid. Some institutional college scholarships even require the submission of the FAFSA application. Each school that you have listed on the FAFSA will receive your financial information after you’ve completed and submitted the form.
When it comes to preparing your child for college, it’s important to understand how the FAFSA works and the steps you should take when submitting it. Continue reading our FAFSA guide for parents for more helpful tips about when and how to submit the FAFSA.
Perks of Submitting the FAFSA Early
Some federal and state financial aid have limited financing and is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, specifically when it comes to Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG grants) and federal work-study programs. Because of this, it’s important to find out your prospective or current college’s priority deadline and submit your FAFSA application on time.
While filing after the priority deadline won’t impact your child’s eligibility to receive federal student loans, they may miss out on grants or scholarships from federal, state, or institutional resources. You can start the FAFSA application here. Find out some other important reasons why completing the FAFSA early is critical.
Where is the FAFSA Login for Parents?
Wondering where to find the FAFSA login for parents? The U.S Department of Education replaced the Federal Student Aid PIN with the FSA ID in 2015. If you want to complete the FAFSA online, your FSA ID will be the username and password you use to log into some federal student aid websites, including fafsa.gov and studentloans.gov.
If your child is a dependent student and submits the FAFSA online, both you and your child will also need to create an FSA ID. An FSA ID is required to sign the online FAFSA application, and you and your child cannot share an FSA ID since it serves as a signature and must be unique to each person. You can create your FSA ID here.
Use the FAFSA on the Web Worksheet
Before your child files the FAFSA online, it’s smart to check out the FAFSA on the Web Worksheet. This worksheet consists of the questions you’ll see on the FAFSA so you can know the information your child will need when filling it out.
Keep in mind that the FAFSA on the web worksheet is not part of the FAFSA application and will not be submitted – it’s simply a helpful FAFSA guide for parents and students. It’s designed to help you know what to expect so you can organize your information before filling out the FAFSA. The questions are listed in the same order as they appear on the website and the app.
Can You Fill Out a Paper FAFSA?
Yes, you can fill out a paper FAFSA! Rather than using the online FAFSA login for parents, you can opt to fill out a PDF version of the FAFSA. The 2023-2024 application is linked here.
Gather Your Documents
When filling out the FAFSA, your child will be asked for basic personal information as well as information about your family’s financial situation. Depending on your situation, you and your child may need the following documents while filling out the application:
- Your child’s driver’s license and Social Security card
- Income tax returns from the prior-prior year (for example, 2020 tax returns to fill out the 2022-2023 FAFSA)
- W-2 forms and other records of money earned
- Current bank statements
- Records and documentation of other untaxed income received such as welfare benefits, Social Security income, veteran’s benefits, AFDC, or military or clergy allowances
- Records of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other investments
- Current mortgage information
- Business or farm records (if applicable)
Most of the above-mentioned documents can be compiled before October 1st, which is the earliest your child can submit the FAFSA for the following academic year. Preparing ahead of time can help ensure that your child’s FAFSA is filed on time so they can get as much aid as possible.
Learn More: What Is the FAFSA, and How Does it Work?
What If Federal, State and Institutional Financial Aid Aren’t Enough?
While financial aid and grants can make a huge difference when covering college expenses, sometimes they don’t cover the complete cost of school. To learn more about private student loans, contact ELFI for assistance. Our Student Loan Advisors are experts in helping parents and students receive the loan funding they need to bridge the gap and cover any overflow costs.*
Try ELFI’s private student loan calculator to view various loan options and determine the repayment plan that may be right for you.*