FASFA Tips & Resources

Filling out the FAFSA can be a straightforward and easy process if you are prepared with the information necessary to complete the application. Below are some tips to help you submit an accurate application:

Creating a FSA ID

Creating a FSA ID

Creating your FSA ID before you begin the FAFSA could prevent processing delays, and it only takes a few minutes to create. The FSA ID is the username and password you use on all federal student aid websites, it allows you to sign your FAFSA electronically, and can also be used to sign loan contracts and to access certain information online. 

When you create your FSA ID, be careful to enter your name and Social Security number exactly as they appear on your Social Security card. Then, when you go to fafsa.gov to start your application, you will be given the option to “Enter your (the student’s) FSA ID” or to “Enter the student’s information.”

If you log in with your FSA ID, certain information (including your name, Social Security number, and date of birth) will be automatically loaded into your application. This will prevent you from running into a common error that occurs when your verified FSA ID information doesn’t match the information on your FAFSA form. Additionally, you won’t have to provide your FSA ID again to sign your FAFSA form electronically.

The student is the one applying for financial aid, so be sure it is the student entering their FSA ID where it says “Enter your (the student’s) FSA ID.” Do not start the FAFSA form by supplying the parent’s FSA ID.

If you want to Create Your FSA ID now, go for it!  If you forgot your FSA ID or you would like to update your account, visit About the FSA ID & Common Issues

Gathering the Documents Needed to Apply

Gathering the Documents Needed to Apply

The FAFSA questions ask for information about you (your name, date of birth, address, etc.) and about your financial situation. Depending on your circumstances (for instance, whether you’re a U.S. citizen or what tax form you used), you might need the following information or documents as you fill out the application: 

  • Your Social Security number (it’s important that you enter it correctly!)
  • Your parents’ Social Security numbers if you are a dependent student
  • Your driver’s license number if you have one
  • Your Alien Registration number if you are not a U.S. citizen
  • Federal tax information or tax returns including IRS W-2 information, for you (and your spouse, if you are married), and for your parents if you are a dependent student: IRS 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ
  • Records of your untaxed income, such as child support received, interest income, and veterans non-education benefits, for you, and for your parents if you are a dependent student
  • Information on cash; savings and checking account balances; investments, including stocks and bonds and real estate but not including the home in which you live; and business and farm assets for you, and for your parents if you are a dependent student

Keep these records! You may need them again.

Getting Help

Getting Help

If you are on-campus and would like assistance in completing and submitting your application, our office will be offering a few drop-in workshops throughout the month of October, click here for more information.

If you need help filling out the FAFSA form, use these free tools offered by Federal Student Aid:

  • Read the “Help and Hints” located on the right side of any FAFSA entry page. (The hints change depending on what question you’re on.)
  • Click “Need Help?” at the bottom of any FAFSA entry page (in other words, any page where you’re entering information into the application). Note: Clicking “Need Help?” doesn’t close the page you’re working on, so you don’t have to worry about losing your place in the application.
  • Chat (in English or Spanish) with live technical support staff by clicking the “Help” icon with the big question mark at the top of any FAFSA entry page, and then selecting "Contact Us," "Federal Student Aid Information Center," and then "Chat With Us." 

Starting Your FASFA

Starting Your FASFA

The FAFSA form is available on October 1 for the next school year. We encourage you to fill it out as soon as possible in order to meet any deadlines. 

If you are starting the application for the first time, click on "Start A New FAFSA." As you begin, keep the following in mind:

  • Your name and Social Security number must match those on your Social Security card.
  • If you are concerned about providing your personal information on the log-in page, choose the virtual keyboard option for additional security.
  • Near the beginning of the application, you’ll create a “save key,” a temporary password that you’ll use if you start your FAFSA form, save it without finishing it, then want to open it again later to finish it. One benefit of the save key is that students and parents can use this function to access the FAFSA form if they are completing the FAFSA in separate locations. (Unlike with the FSA ID, which needs to be kept private, it’s okay to tell your parent what your save key is.)

If you filled out a FAFSA form last year and want to renew it, click “Login” on the home page, and be sure to select “FAFSA Renewal” once given the option. That way, many of the (nonfinancial) questions will be pre-filled for you. Just be sure to update any information that has changed since last year.

Listing Colleges: HSU School Code

Listing Colleges: HSU School Code

While completing the FAFSA, you must list at least one school to receive your information and you can list up to 10 schools in total. The schools you list on the application will automatically receive your FAFSA results electronically. Make sure to list HSU as one of your schools! Humboldt State University - School Code: 001149

Determining Your Dependency Status

Determining Your Dependency Status

The FAFSA form asks a series of questions that determine whether you are a dependent or independent student for purposes of applying for federal student aid. If you are a dependent student, you must report parent information, as well as your own information, on your application. You can find out now the answer to your question, Am I a dependent or independent student? You can also check out the Dependency Status Infographic.

Reporting Parents’ Information

Reporting Parents’ Information

If you are a dependent student, you will need to report parent information on your FAFSA form. Visit our page on reporting parent information to find out who counts as your parent, what to do if you don’t live with your parents, and what to do if you don’t have access to your parents’ financial information.

Providing Financial Information

Providing Financial Information

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) asks for financial information, including balances of savings and checking accounts and information from tax forms. The FAFSA uses tax information from two years prior to the academic year, as opposed to one year prior. This shift, is commonly referred to as Prior-Prior Year (PPY). Use of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) will automatically transfers tax information into the FAFSA form.  Check out the IRS DRT video we created to assist you with the process.

Signing and Submitting the FAFSA

Signing and Submitting the FAFSA

Before your FAFSA can be processed, you will need to sign and submit the application. Here are some tips as you finish up your application:

  • Be sure to sign with your FSA ID (your username and password) so your FAFSA form will be processed as quickly as possible. If you are providing parent information, one of your parents will be required to sign your application.
  • Once you see your confirmation page, you will know you have successfully submitted your FAFSA. If you provided an email address on the form, you will automatically receive the confirmation page by email. There are a few differences between the emailed confirmation and the one you will see on the FAFSA before exiting the application, so consider printing or saving your confirmation page before you exit.
  • Your confirmation page offers the option for the parent information in your FAFSA form to be transferred automatically into another student’s application. So if you have a sibling who needs to fill out a FAFSA form, be sure to use this option when you see your confirmation page. (Please note that the link won't appear on the emailed confirmation page, so be sure to take advantage of it while you're still at the original confirmation page.)
  • When you fill out the FAFSA form, you are also automatically applying for certain state financial aid.

Taking the Next Steps

Taking the Next Steps

Once you have completed your FAFSA form, there are more steps you have to take before you receive financial  aid. Make sure you know what happens after you submit your FAFSA form.

The HSU Financial Aid Office will begin to process all applications for the Fall term beginning in February and for the Spring term in November. If you are selected for verification, please review the Verification section on our website for more information. HSU Financial Aid begins awarding students in February and March, please review the Awarding Aid section on our website for more information.

We encourage all students who submitted a FAFSA and listed HSU as a school, to directly contact us to ensure that we received your application.

Try This Resource

Try This Resource

2020-2021 FAFSA on the Web Worksheet—Provides a preview of the questions students and parents may be asked while completing the FAFSA form.