FAFSA Tips

FSA ID

We strongly recommend you create an FSA ID, a username and password combination that allows you to sign your FAFSA® electronically. Your FSA ID also can be used to sign loan contracts and to access certain information online. You can get your FSA ID as you fill out the FAFSA, but you also have the option to get it ahead of time.  Find out how to get an FSA ID and what to do if you forgot your FSA ID.

Common issues and solutions involving the FSA ID

Gathering the Documents Needed to Apply

The FAFSA asks for information about you (your name, date of birth, address, etc.) and about your financial situation. Depending on your circumstances (for instance, when you filed taxes or what tax form you used), you might need the following information or documents as you fill out the FAFSA.

  • Your Social Security number (it’s important that you enter it correctly on the FAFSA!)
  • 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
  • Foreign tax return, or tax return for Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Marshall Islands, the Federal States of Micronesia, or Palau
  • Records of your untaxed income, such as child support received, interest income, and veterans noneducation 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. Do not mail original documents to us.
  • Learn more about reporting tax information on your FAFSA.

Getting Help

If you need help filling out the FAFSA, use these free tools:

  • Read the “Help and Hints” located on the right side of any FAFSA on the Web entry page. (The hints change depending on what question you’re on.)
  • Click “Need Help?” at the bottom of any FAFSA on the Web entry page (in other words, any page where you’re entering information into the application).
  • Chat (in English or Spanish) with live technical support staff by clicking the “Contact Us” icon at the top of any FAFSA on the Web entry page.
  • For details about the purpose of FAFSA questions and how information should be reported in some unusual cases, see the Completing the FAFSA guide.
  • Contact the Student Financial Services office.

Logging In and Providing Your Basic Personal Information

As you log in to the FAFSA, keep the following in mind:

  • Your name and Social Security number must match those on your Social Security card.
  • If you’re concerned about providing your personal information on the FAFSA login page, choose the virtual keyboard option for additional security.
  • The password you create near the beginning of the FAFSA on the Web application is not the same as your Federal Student Aid PIN. You’ll need the password only if you start your FAFSA, save it without finishing it, then want to open it again later to finish it. 
  • If you filled out a FAFSA last year and want to renew it, click “Start Here” on the home page and then select “FAFSA Renewal” so that 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

While completing the FAFSA, you must list at least one college to receive your information. The schools you list will use your FAFSA information to determine the types and amounts of aid you may receive.  You should list your first choice college first, second choice second, and so on. You can list up to four schools on a paper FAFSA and up to 10 schools on FAFSA on the Web. (You can add more schools to your FAFSA later.) Schools you list on your FAFSA will automatically receive your FAFSA results electronically.

Temple University federal school code: 003371

Determining Your Dependency Status

The FAFSA 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 FAFSA. If you’re curious, you can find out whether you’re a dependent student.

Reporting Parents’ Information

If you’re a dependent student, you’ll need to report parent information on your FAFSA. (Find out who counts as your parent.)

You might find that you’re unable to provide parent information because you have no contact with your parents or because they refuse to provide their information. The tips below might help you out.

Are you unable to provide parent information due to special circumstances?

In situations such as the ones below, you may be able to submit your FAFSA without parent information despite being considered a dependent student.

  • Your parents are incarcerated.
  • You have left home due to an abusive family environment.
  • You do not know where your parents are and are unable to contact them (and you have not been adopted).
  • You are older than 21 but not yet 24, are unaccompanied, and are either homeless or self-supporting and at risk of being homeless.

FAFSA on the Web will ask you whether you are able to provide information about your parents. If not, you will have the option to indicate that you have special circumstances that make you unable to get your parents’ information. FAFSA on the Web then allows you to submit your application without entering data about your parents. 

It is important for you to understand the following:

  • Although your FAFSA will be submitted, it will not be fully processed. You will not receive an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and must immediately contact the Student Financial Services (SFS) office. 
  • It is likely the SFS office will ask for additional information to determine whether you can be considered independent and have an EFC calculated without parent data. Gather as much written evidence of your situation as you can to include with your Dependency Override request. Written evidence may include court or law enforcement documents, letters from a clergy member, school counselor or social worker, and/or any other relevant data that explains your special circumstance.
  • The SFS decision about your dependency status is final and cannot be appealed to the U.S. Department of Education. 

Are your parents unwilling to provide their information on your FAFSA?

You can’t be considered independent of your parents just because they refuse to help you with the FAFSA. Still, we do understand that in some cases, the parents are not supporting the dependent student at all and refuse to provide their information on the student’s FAFSA. If you’re in that situation, here’s the process.

  1. When FAFSA on the Web asks you whether you are able to provide information about your parents, say no.
  2. On the next screen, select the option that says you don’t have a special circumstance but you still can’t provide parent information.
  3. The FAFSA explains that if your parents don’t support you and refuse to provide their information on the FAFSA, you may submit your FAFSA without their information. However, you won’t be able to get any federal student aid other than an unsubsidized loan—and even that might not happen. The decision is up to Student Financial Services. If you agree to this, you may submit your FAFSA without parent information.
  4. Your FAFSA information will be sent to Temple University, but you won’t get an Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
  5. You must immediately contact Student Financial Services to discuss the possibility of getting an unsubsidized loan. The financial aid office may ask for a written statement from your parents, indicating that they refuse to provide their information on the FAFSA and that they no longer support you. (Forms of support include allowing you to live in their home, including you on their car or health insurance, providing a car to drive on a regular basis, and payment of your tuition or fees.)
  6. The Student Financial Services office will review your situation and decide whether you may receive an unsubsidized loan. That decision is final and cannot be appealed to the U.S. Department of Education.

If you’re considering following this process, think about this first: If you submit your FAFSA without parent information, you will not receive an EFC. Some nonfederal aid programs look at the EFC in order to determine your eligibility for their funds; because you won’t have an EFC, you won’t be considered for those aid programs. You could be giving up a chance at many sources of aid. So encourage your parents to provide their information—doing so won’t require them to support you in any way, it’ll just help you be considered for as many sources of financial aid as possible.

Dependency Override Appeal Process

Students that are unable to complete the FAFSA with parental information can submit a Dependency Override Request to the Student Financial Services office. Include any and all documentation you feel will support your appeal for independent status; for example, court orders of permanent status (not temporary), death certificates and letters from a third party (school counselors, clergy or family physicians) may be appropriate. You must also submit a copy of your IRS tax return transcript, W2 and a completed Independent Verification Worksheet.   

The Student Financial Services office will review the Dependency Override request once all documentation has been received. You will then be contacted by the office if additional information is needed as well as once the review is completed. 

The Student Financial Services office reviews each request for Dependency Override on a case-by-case basis and students are required to complete the request on an annual basis since the override is not able to be automatically renewed each year.

Providing Financial Information

The FAFSA asks for financial information, including balances of savings and checking accounts and information from tax forms.

  • Use income records for the tax year prior to the academic year for which you are applying: for instance, if you are filling out the 2016–17 FAFSA, you will need 2015 tax information.
  • If you haven’t done your taxes by the time you fill out your FAFSA, it’s okay to estimate the amounts. You might want to base your estimates on last year’s tax return. After you file your taxes, you’ll need to log back in to the FAFSA and correct any estimated information that was wrong.
  • If you have done your taxes, be sure to consider the option in FAFSA on the Web to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. You may be able to use the tool if you filed your taxes electronically at least three weeks ago or if you filed on paper at least eight weeks ago.
  • The IRS Data Retrieval Tool takes you to the IRS website, where you’ll need to log in by providing your name and other information exactly as you provided it on your tax return.
  • At the IRS site, you can preview your information to make sure it looks correct before agreeing to have it transferred to your FAFSA.
  • When you return to the FAFSA, you’ll see that questions that are populated with tax information will be marked with “Transferred from the IRS.” Don’t make any changes to those answers (except where Individual Retirement Account or pension rollovers are involved), or you’ll invalidate the information you retrieved.
  • Using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool saves you time and effort. You don’t have to find your tax records and locate the data needed for your FAFSA. You don’t have to worry about making mistakes entering your tax information on your FAFSA. If you use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool and don’t change any of the retrieved information in your FAFSA, you won’t need to provide tax transcripts if you’re selected for verification.

Signing and Submitting the FAFSA

Before your FAFSA can be processed, you’ll need to sign and submit it. Here are some tips as you finish your FAFSA.

  • Be sure to sign with your Federal Student Aid ID so your FAFSA will be processed as quickly as possible.
  • Once you see your confirmation page, you’ll know you’ve successfully submitted your FAFSA. If you provided an e-mail address on your FAFSA, you’ll automatically receive the confirmation page by e-mail. The main difference between the e-mailed confirmation and the one you’ll see in the FAFSA before exiting the application is that the e-mailed confirmation won’t include the college graduation, retention, and transfer rates for schools you listed on your FAFSA.
  • When you fill out the FAFSA, Pennsylvania residents are also automatically applying for the Pennsylvania state grant. In some cases, the state requires an additional application in order to determine your eligibility for state aid. Pennsylvania has a partnership with the FAFSA that allows you to transfer your information directly into your state aid application, so if you see a link on your FAFSA confirmation page to your state financial aid application, you should click on it.
  • Your confirmation page offers the option for the parent information in your FAFSA to be transferred automatically into another student’s FAFSA. So if you have a sibling who needs to fill out a FAFSA, be sure to use this option when you see your confirmation page. It won’t be available once you leave the confirmation page.

Taking the Next Steps

You filled out your FAFSA and submitted it. What happens next? No, you won’t get a check in the mail from the government. There’s more to it than that.

Where does my FAFSA information go once I submit it?

Your FAFSA information is shared with the colleges you list on the application. Temple University uses your processed information to determine the federal, state and institutional financial aid you may receive.  

Your information also goes to your state higher education agency, as well as to agencies of the states where your chosen schools are located. Many states have financial aid funds that they give out based on FAFSA information. The U.S. Department of Education provides a full list of higher education agencies by state at the Education Resource Organizations Directory.

So, your FAFSA helps you apply for federal, state, and institutional financial aid. Not bad for a form that takes students an average of less than half an hour to complete!

How can I check to see whether my FAFSA has been processed?

You can check the status of your FAFSA immediately after submitting it online. You can check the status of a paper FAFSA after it has been processed (roughly 7–10 days from the date mailed). Here’s how:

  1. Option 1: Go to www.fafsa.ed.gov and click Start Here to log in.
  2. Option 2: Contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center.

If your FAFSA is still being processed, we recommend that you wait a few days before checking the status again.

Who will I hear from, and when?

First, the office of Federal Student Aid at the U.S. Department of Education will send you a Student Aid Report (SAR), which is a summary of the FAFSA data you submitted. You’ll get your SAR within three days to three weeks after you submit your FAFSA. Be sure to look over your SAR to make sure you didn’t make a mistake on your FAFSA. 

The SAR won’t tell you how much financial aid you’ll get. Instead, if you applied for admission to Temple University and have been accepted, and you listed us as school on your FAFSA, the Student Financial Services office will calculate your aid and will send you an electronic or paper “award letter” telling you how much aid you’re eligible to receive. The timing of the award letter varies and could be as early as springtime (awarding for the fall) or as late as immediately before you start school. It depends on when you apply. 

What if I made a mistake on my FAFSA? How do I correct it?

Once your application has been processed, you can correct your FAFSA online or on paper. (Making corrections online is the easiest and fastest option.) 

Can I update information on my FAFSA if my situation has changed since I filed it?

There is some information that must be updated if it changes, while most information cannot be updated. Find out the difference and how to update FAFSA information.

How do I get my money?

Student Financial Services (SFS) staff are available to explain exactly how and when your aid will be applied to your account. We will also tell you whether you need to fill out additional paperwork or meet other requirements. For instance, if you’re receiving a federal student loan (Federal Direct or Perkins loan) for the first time, you are required to sign a promissory note and go through entrance counseling.

Be sure to periodically review your Self-Service Banner online account (within the Financial Aid tab) and keep in touch with the SFS so that you understand the whole process of receiving aid.