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FAFSA® 2024-25 checklist: What you’ll need to complete your application online

Published April 2, 2024| minute read
Hadiya Iqbal

Senior Associate, JPMorgan Chase

    Filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) is required for students to be eligible for federal financial aid for college and graduate school, including federal grants, student loans, and work-study programs. If you’re a student who wants to access federal financial aid, the application is essentially unavoidable. It’s also used to help determine if you’re eligible for some other types of financial aid, like some institutional scholarships.

    The 2024-25 FAFSA® has changed from previous iterations of the form due to the FAFSA® Simplification Act, which was enacted to streamline and improve the process of applying for federal financial aid.

    Because of the changes to the form, or if you’ve never filed the FAFSA® before, you may want to brush up on what you need to file it.

    Continue reading for a checklist of items you’ll need to file the form online. Of note, it’s possible to file a paper version of the FAFSA® but doing so may require a distinct set of items.

    1. Your Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID and password

    Starting with the 2024-25 FAFSA®, students and their parents (if they’re a dependent) won’t be able to access the online FAFSA® without having an FSA ID and password set up. This username and password are used to log into the Department of Education’s online systems.

    It’s recommended that you set up your FSA ID before you start the form because it can take up to three days for your information to be confirmed.

    2. Your contributor’s information (if you’ll need one)

    "Contributor" is a new term on the 2024–25 FAFSA® and refers to anyone required to provide information on a FAFSA®, such as you, your biological or adoptive parent, your parent's spouse, or your spouse. You'll answer questions on the form to determine who needs to be a contributor on your application.

    There are a few cases in which figuring out who your contributor is might be slightly trickier to figure out.

    One is if you have parents who are divorced. If your parents are divorced, the parent who provided more financial support over the past 12 months will be identified as a contributor on your FAFSA®. If both parents provided equal financial support, the parent with the greater income and assets will be identified as a contributor.

    If you're married and file taxes jointly with your spouse, you'll report your spouse's information on the FAFSA®, but they won't be identified as a contributor. If you're married and didn't file taxes jointly, your spouse will be considered a contributor on your FAFSA® form.

    To invite contributors to your FAFSA®, you’ll be asked to provide:

    • Their first and last name
    • Their Social Security number (if they have one)
    • Their date of birth
    • Their email address

    It's important to note that identifying as a contributor on the FAFSA® won’t make your family member responsible for paying for your education costs.

    3. Your 2022 federal income tax return and records of your untaxed income

    Even though your tax information gets transferred directly to the FAFSA® (consent to allow this is a new requirement for the 2024-25 FAFSA®), you may still need your tax records to help answer certain questions. Make sure you report 2022 income on the 2024–25 FAFSA®. You and your contributors may also need to answer FAFSA® questions about untaxed income, such as child support and interest income.

    If you or a contributor had a significant change in income since the 2022 tax year, you should still complete the FAFSA® with your 2022 tax information. From there, contact the schools you're applying to in order to explain your circumstances and then be able to document any changes in income. School officials may be able to assess your situation and adjust your FAFSA® if warranted.

    4. Records of your assets

    On the 2024–25 FAFSA®, you'll use 2022 tax year information to answer many of the financial questions. The FAFSA® will also ask you and your contributor (if you have one) questions about your assets. Make sure you have records of your savings and checking account balances and the value of any investments you have, such as stocks, bonds, and real estate (excluding your primary residence).

    You must report the current value of your assets as of the date you sign the FAFSA® rather than reporting the 2022 tax year amounts.

    5. The list of schools you want to apply to

    You can list up to 20 schools on the online 2024-25 FAFSA®. Even if you haven’t applied or been accepted to a certain college yet, you can still add the school to your FAFSA®. It’s better to add a school to the form rather than not, even if you’re unsure about applying, to reduce the risk of missing out on any potential financial aid.

    Once your FAFSA® is processed, the schools you listed on the form will receive your FAFSA® results electronically. They’ll use your FAFSA® information to determine the types and amounts of financial aid you may receive if you're eligible. You’ll receive an email from the U.S. Department of Education to let you know once your information has been sent to your selected schools.

    Final thoughts

    Completing the FAFSA® can give you access to federal financial aid for your post-secondary educational journey if you’re eligible. It’s important to stay ahead of FAFSA® deadlines and gather all the necessary information ahead of filing to be as prepared as possible since filing the form is integral to the federal financial aid process.