5 Tips on Filling Out the FAFSA for Financial Aid

If you need financial aid for your career training, start by submitting the FAFSA online

If you want to get job training, but can’t afford the tuition, don’t give up! You may be eligible for financial aid! Getting an education may seem out of your reach, but with financial aid, you may be able to get grants or loans to help you through. And once you complete your training, you will have more marketable skills that can help you succeed in the job market.

The first step is to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). The FAFSA can be submitted online, and it will help determine which loans or grants may be available to you. Use these 5 tips to help you get started.

1) Make sure you fit the FAFSA criteria
Start by reading the eligibility guidelines to make sure that you are eligible to receive financial aid. Being eligible does not guarantee you any money. It just means that you can apply.

2) Create your FSA ID (username and password)
To complete your application online, you will need an FSA ID. Create your FAFSA ID at any time, even if you’re not ready to start. It only takes a minute to sign up. If you are a dependent student, your parents will need an FSA ID too.

3) Gather everything you need before getting started
You will need a variety of paperwork and records to apply for the FAFSA, so it’s best to gather everything in one place to make your life easier. Here is what you will need:

  • Your Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Your driver’s license number, if you have a driver’s license (not required)
  • For non U.S. citizens, your Alien Registration Number
  • Federal tax information: This usually includes your tax returns, W-2 information for yourself, your spouse (if married), and your parents (if you are a dependent), 1040 forms, and any other records of income received.
  • Records of untaxed income, such as child support received or veterans’ non-educational benefits
  • Bank statements showing your savings and checking account balances and any records of investments or other assets
  • All of the above information for your parents, if you are dependent.
  • A list of schools where you are applying. You have to include at least one on your FAFSA, but you should list all the schools that you are considering!

4) Get step-by-step instructions
Filling out the FAFSA might feel intimidating, but luckily there are many resources to help you. Check out the FAFSA tutorial video for easy step-by-step instructions. You can also find written instructions and tips on the Filling Out the FAFSA webpage.

5) Sign and file!
After you have completed, double-checked, signed, and submitted the FAFSA, you may need to wait as long as 3 weeks for it to be processed. Then you will receive a Student Aid Report by email. Don’t worry about this report. It is simply the report that your potential schools will receive. The schools will use the Student Aid Report to determine what kind of financial aid package they can offer to you. Wait to hear from the school, and if you don’t hear from them within a week of receiving the Report, then contact the school.

A few tips to remember

  • Check and double-check your information before submitting your FAFSA. You don’t want to be denied aid because of a simple mistake, like typing in your SSN correctly or forgetting to sign the application.
  • Filling out the FAFSA is free at https://fafsa.gov/. Don’t fall for any scams that try to charge you for the FAFSA.
  • If and when you get offered a financial aid package, study it very carefully. Know the difference between grants and loans. A grant is money that does not ever need to be repaid. But a loan must be repaid with interest. Make sure you don’t accept a loan that you think you will not be able to repay. View the Types of Student Aid video to learn more.


This article was provided by the American College of Medical Careers, located in Orlando, Florida. Our programs train students in the career fields of sonography, dental assisting, medical assisting, health information technology, and more. For more information about our school, schedule a visit, and we’d be happy to show you around!