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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.

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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

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. 

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.

Learn more: How to become an independent student if under 24

Key next steps for students

  • Check out the Scholarships360 FAFSA Guide to walk you through every step of the FAFSA.
  • Remember, the FAFSA may not be the only application that you need to submit! Some institutions will require the CSS Profile to be considered for need-based financial aid.

Don’t miss: Scholarships360’s free scholarship search tool

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.

Additional FAFSA resources