The FAFSA is a form filled out by current and prospective college students to determine their eligibility for federal student aid. In addition, colleges often use information from the FAFSA to determine eligibility for school-specific scholarships or need-based financial aid.

Federal student aid is available for people with criminal convictions after release, regardless of parole or probation status. Drug convictions no longer affect federal student aid eligibility, though the FAFSA will ask questions related to certain drug offenses. Limits on federal student aid eligibility only exist for convictions for certain sexual offenses. More information on aid eligibility for justice-involved individuals can be found here.

documents you'll need

  • Your most recent federal income tax return

  • Your Social Security Number

  • Your driver's license (if you have one)

  • Your current bank statements (and any significant cash holdings)

  • Your current investment records (including stocks, bonds, and real estate you do not live in)

  • Records of any untaxed income (including child support, veterans' benefits, etc.)

Filling Out the fafsa

The FAFSA can be filled out online or through the myStudentAid mobile app. There is also a paper version that can be printed out and then mailed in. The address to send your FAFSA form to is Federal Student Aid Programs, P.O. Box 7650, London, KY 40742-7650.

The online and mobile versions of the FAFSA let you create a "save key" (password) to stop, save your progress, and resume filling out the form at a later time. Your progress is NOT saved automatically, so don't forget to save!

If you're filling out the FAFSA for the first time, you will need to first create a Federal Student Aid (FSA) account to get a FSA ID. All you need is your Social Security number and your mobile phone number or email address. You can create the account at https://studentaid.gov/fsa-id/create-account/launch.

If you have filled out the FAFSA before, you will need to use the same FSA ID as before. Additionally, look out for the option to complete a "renewal" FAFSA form, which will copy over much of your information from your previous application.

Once you create the FSA ID, follow these steps:

  1. Fill out the Student Demographics section by adding personal information such as your name, date of birth, email address, etc.

  2. Select the schools you are applying to or the school you attend.

  3. Answer the dependency status questions, which determine whether your parents need to provide financial information on the FAFSA. Anyone who is over the age of 24, married, or have children who receive more than half of their support from you is an "independent" student who will not need to provide parental information. More information can be found here.

  4. Report parental information, if necessary.

  5. Provide your financial information (and parental information, if necessary). If you see a "Link to IRS" button, click it to automatically fill out your IRS tax information and speed up the process.

  6. Sign and submit.