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What Do You Need to File a FAFSA?

by Madison Garcia, Demand Media

    The FAFSA asks students to disclose a lot of detailed personal and financial information. To make the application process quick and painless, round up all the important documents beforehand and have your parents on standby. It's not the end of the world if you do make an honest mistake on the application; the FAFSA allows users to submit updates and corrections to their application.

    Identification

    You'll need to submit some basic information on the FAFSA application to verify your identity. Students and parents of dependent students must submit their Social Security numbers. If either the students or parents aren't U.S. citizens, they can submit an alien registration number in lieu of a Social Security number. If they have a driver's license, students and parents may also need to submit the license numbers on the FAFSA.

    Bank and Investment Statements

    The federal government considers how much money your family has on hand when determining your student aid package. The FAFSA will ask applicants for the current balance of all student and parent bank and investment accounts. It's helpful to obtain month-end bank statements for all checking and savings accounts, stocks, and bonds to verify balances. The FAFSA doesn't consider the value of the family home when determining the aid package, but they will ask about other real estate, business and farm assets.

    Income Documentation

    The FAFSA will ask students and parents to disclose all taxed and untaxed income. The easiest way to fill out the income section of the FAFSA is to reference a copy of student and parent tax returns from the year before. For example, a student filling out a 2013-2014 FAFSA will need to disclose income information for the 2012 tax year. However, you can still fill out this section of the FAFSA before you've finished up your tax returns. If you're fairly certain you know all your income sources for the previous year, the FAFSA allows users to estimate financial information and submit their application. Just be sure to make any necessary corrections when you do have a copy of your final tax return.

    Student Aid PIN

    A user-generated password isn't enough identity verification to submit a FAFSA. The government requires students to obtain a secure PIN to electronically sign and submit their student aid application. Students can apply for a PIN when they initially submit their FAFSA application. After the Social Security Administration verifies a student's information, the student can use that PIN to check the status of the FAFSA and make changes. If you think the Social Security Administration might have incorrect information regarding your name or date of birth, contact the agency as soon as possible to correct any errors. Inconsistent information could delay your PIN approval and FAFSA processing.

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    About the Author

    Based in San Diego, Calif., Madison Garcia is an educator and writer specializing in business topics. Garcia received her Master of Science in accountancy from San Diego State University.

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