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    Necessary FAFSA Materials: What You Need to Apply

    By Will Geiger

    Will Geiger is the co-founder of Scholarships360 and has a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. He is a former Senior Assistant Director of Admissions at Kenyon College where he personally reviewed 10,000 admissions applications and essays. Will also managed the Kenyon College merit scholarship program and served on the financial aid appeals committee. He has also worked as an Associate Director of College Counseling at a high school in New Haven, Connecticut. Will earned his master’s in education from the University of Pennsylvania and received his undergraduate degree in history from Wake Forest University.

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    Edited by Maria Geiger

    Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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    Updated: February 28th, 2024
    Necessary FAFSA Materials: What You Need to Apply

    The Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA is one of the primary ways that students can apply for  financial aid. This includes need-based financial aid that encompasses grants, student loans and work study. However, this also includes aid that isn’t need-based as the  FAFSA is also a required part of the scholarship application process for some colleges, states, and scholarship organizations. 

    One of the best ways to simplify the FAFSA process is by getting organized beforehand. First, students will want to create their Federal Student Aid ID. Once this is complete, students will want to have some additional materials on-hand to answer all of the questions. The specific materials that students need will depend upon whether the student is a dependent or an independent student.

    Additionally, if you are looking for even more help when filling out your FAFSA, you can check out our FAFSA 101 Guide which will guide you every step of the way.

    Necessary FAFSA materials for dependent students

    If you are a dependent student, here is a checklist of the necessary materials you’ll need to complete the FAFSA:

    • Your Social Security Card
    • Your Driver’s License (if you have one)
    • Your Alien Registration number (if you are not a U.S. citizen)
    • Your W-2 Federal Tax Return (if you filed)
    • Records of your untaxed income (if you have any)
    • Current bank statements (if you have any bank accounts)

    If you are a dependent student, you will also need the following information from your parents:

    • Your parents’ Social Security numbers
    • Your parents’ 1040 Form and W-2 Federal Tax Returns
    • Your parents’ records of any untaxed income
    • Your parents’ current bank statements
    • Your parents’ investment and business financial records
    • Your parents’ records of child support (if applicable)

    See also: Which parent should I use on the FAFSA?

    Necessary FAFSA materials for independent students

    If you are an independent student, here’s a checklist of the necessary materials and documents that you’ll need:

    • Your Social Security Card
    • Your Driver’s License (if you have one)
    • Your Alien Registration number (if you are not a U.S. citizen)
    • Your W-2 Federal Tax Return
    • Records of any untaxed income
    • Current bank statements

    Note that if you are married, you will need information from your spouse including Social Security Number and tax information. If your spouse is considered a contributor, they will need to make their own account.

    Once you gather these necessary materials, you can start to answer the questions on the FAFSA. Please also note that you should never mail any of these documents to the Office of Federal Student Aid.

    Next Steps

    Next Steps

    • Gather all the necessary materials you need to fill out the FAFSA before beginning
    • Check out the Scholarships360 FAFSA Guide to walk you through every step of the FAFSA
    • Remember, you may need to submit other applications such as the CSS profile as well to be considered for other forms of financial aid from your school
    • Make sure you don’t miss any dates for when your FAFSA is due, as missing the deadline can have serious consequences
    • Finally, continue or start applying for all the scholarships you are eligible for!

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    Frequently asked questions about necessary FAFSA materials

    What if my parents didn’t file their income tax?

    If your parents haven’t filed their income tax yet, you may still be able to complete your FAFSA. If their failure to file is authorized by the IRS, you will be fine. This means that if they have an approved extension, you can fill out the FAFSA with other documents. However, if your parents’ failure to file is unauthorized, you will not be eligible for financial aid until they file.

    What if my parents refuse to submit their financial information?

    If you are unable to convince at least one of your parents to submit their financial information, you will be ineligible for financial aid. There are a few ways that you can try to convince your parents to submit their financial records. You can ask your school counselor to speak to them to emphasize the FAFSA’s importance in obtaining free financial aid. Your school counselor can also assure your parents of the safety of their financial information.

    Another route to take is to attempt to file as an independent student. There are a strict set of requirements for obtaining independent student status if you are under 24. But if you are able to meet these requirements, you will be able to apply for federal financial aid.

    Does FAFSA require bank statements?

    The FAFSA does require bank statements from both you and your parents  if you are filing as a dependent. The goal of the FAFSA is to assess how much financial assistance you need, which means this is an important data point for them to have. Attempting to drain bank accounts before submitting a bank statement is not advisable, as that constitutes fraud. Always be honest and transparent when FAFSA asks for documents.

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