Undergrad

8 Steps to Filling out the FAFSA Form

Hi! My name is Erin Dumers and I am a Financial Aid Advisor here at Clarkson University.  I’ve worked at CU for seven years now; with two being in my current role.  My previous roles included undergrad admissions and working with faculty and students in the MBA program.  As a Financial Aid Advisor I assist the Director and Assistant/Associate Deans as well as work with all prospective students and families regarding financial aid eligibility and processes. 

As a mom of two boys, one being a current senior in high school who is going through the admissions and financial aid process I can relate to the confusion and apprehension that comes with this territory; especially since I’ve just completed a FAFSA for the first time!  

This is an exciting yet bittersweet time for you all; I know that feeling well!  Financial aid can be very overwhelming and confusing; we are here to help guide you through this process.  We look forward to working with you and hope to “CU” soon!

Senior year of high school is an exciting, busy time.  We hope, in the months ahead, you are all able to make wonderful memories of this special time before heading off to college. 

This is also an important time to have serious conversations about college costs and how to secure financial aid to make it as affordable as possible.  Although it may seem stressful or confusing, having these conversations and taking action early can simplify the process for your family. 

The 2020-21 FAFSA is now available!  The FAFSA is used to determine eligibility for a variety of aid including both federal and university need-based aid. In addition, states and universities may require other applications.  Making sure all required forms are submitted is the best way to ensure you receive the maximum amount of aid available. Even if you haven’t finalized which schools you are applying to, you can still complete the FAFSA form now.  Just remember to log back in and add the school codes for all schools where you submit admission applications to make sure they receive the information. Clarkson’s FAFSA school code is 002699. 

The sooner the FAFSA is completed, the sooner your family can make informed college decisions…and get back to enjoying all the memory-making moments still in store.

FAFSA Tips from Clarkson’s New Student Financial Aid Team:  

  1. Create an account (FSA ID) 

• Student: An FSA ID is a username and password you need to sign the FAFSA form online. If you don’t have an FSA ID, get an FSA ID here ASAP. It takes about 10 minutes to create an FSA ID. If this will be your first time filling out the FAFSA form, you’ll be able to use your FSA ID right away to sign and submit your FAFSA form online. If this is not your first time filling out the FAFSA form, you may need to wait one to three days for us to verify your info before you can use your FSA ID to renew your FAFSA form and sign it online. 

• Parent: If your child is required to report parent information on the FAFSA form, you need to create your own FSA ID in order to sign your child’s FAFSA form online. Create an FSA ID here. Parents are able to use their FSA IDs right away. 

IMPORTANT: Some of the most common FAFSA errors occur when the student and parent mix up their FSA IDs. If you don’t want your financial aid to be delayed, it’s extremely important that each parent and each student create his or her own FSA ID and that they do not share it with ANYONE, not even with each other. Also it is extremely important that both FSA ID’s have their own unique email address.  We know it’s tempting to enter your parent’s email in the student section but this will cause issues with your FSA ID. 

2. Start the FAFSA® form at fafsa.gov 

The 2020-21 FAFSA form became available October 1! Even if your state and school deadlines aren’t for a while, you should complete the FAFSA form as soon as possible because some states and schools run out of financial aid early and have limited funds. Don’t wait until the last minute to apply! 

 • If you are the student: Click “I am the student.” Enter your FSA ID username and password, and click “Next.”

 • If you are the parent: Click “I am a parent, preparer, or student from a Freely Associated State.” Provide the student’s name, Social Security number, and date of birth, and click “Next.”

• Choose the 2020-21 FAFSA form if you will be attending college between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021.

3. Fill out the Student Demographics section

 This is information such as your name, date of birth, etc. If you have completed the FAFSA form in the past or if you log into the FAFSA form with your FSA ID, a lot of your personal information will be prepopulated to save you time. Make sure you enter your personal information exactly as it appears on your Social Security card. (That’s right, no nicknames.) 

Parents: 

Remember that the FAFSA form is the student’s application, not yours. When the FAFSA form says “you” or “your,” it’s referring to the student (unless otherwise noted). Pay attention to whether you’re being asked for student or parent information.

4. List the schools to which you want your FAFSA information sent

In the School Selection section, add every school you’re considering, even if you haven’t applied or been accepted yet. It doesn’t hurt your application to add more schools; colleges can’t see the other schools you’ve added. In fact, you don’t even have to remove schools if you later decide not to apply or attend. If you don’t end up applying or getting accepted to a school, the school can just disregard your FAFSA form. But, you can remove schools at any time to make room for new schools. You can add up to 10 schools at a time. If you’re applying to more than 10 schools, here’s what you should do

Clarkson University’s school code is 002699

5. Answer the dependency status questions 

In the dependency status section, you’ll be asked a series of specific questions to determine whether you are required to provide parent information on the FAFSA form. 

The dependency guidelines are set by Congress and are different from those used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Even if you live on your own, support yourself, and file taxes on your own, you may still be considered a dependent student for federal student aid purposes. If you are determined to be a dependent student, you’ll be required to report information about your parent(s). If you’re determined to be an independent student, you won’t have to provide parent information and you can skip the next step.

6. Fill out the Parent Demographics section

 This is where your parent(s) will provide basic demographic information. Remember that it doesn’t matter if you don’t live with your parent(s); you still must report information about them if you were determined to be a dependent student in the step above.

 Start by figuring out who counts as your parent on the FAFSA form

Read specific guidance about reporting your parents’ information as a dependent student. 

What to do if you are not able to provide parent info due to special circumstances.

7. Supply your financial information 

Here is where you and your parent(s) (if applicable) will provide your financial information. This step is incredibly simple if you use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT). The IRS DRT allows you to import your IRS tax information into the FAFSA form with just a few clicks. Using this tool also may reduce the amount of paperwork you need to provide to your school. So if you’re eligible, use it!

To access the tool, indicate that you’ve “already completed” taxes on the student or parent finances page. If you’re eligible, you’ll see a “LINK TO IRS” button. Choose that option and follow the prompts.

8. Sign and submit your FAFSA form

 You’re not finished with the FAFSA form until you (and your parent, if you’re a dependent student) sign it. The quickest and easiest way to sign your FAFSA form is online with your FSA ID.

 Note: If you (the student) logged in to the FAFSA form with your FSA ID at the beginning, you won’t need to provide it again on this page. But, if you’re a dependent student, your parent will still need to sign before you can completely submit. 

Sign and Submit Tips:

 • If you or your parent forgot your FSA ID username or password, you can retrieve it

• Make sure you and your parent don’t mix up your FSA IDs. This is one of the most common errors we see, and why it’s extremely important for each person to create his or her own FSA ID and not share it with anyone. 

• Make sure the parent who is using his or her FSA ID to sign the FAFSA form chooses the right parent number from the drop-down menu. If your parent doesn’t remember whether he or she was listed as Parent 1 or Parent 2, he or she can go back to the parent demographics section to check. 

Here’s what you should do if you get an error saying that your FSA ID information doesn’t match the information provided on the FAFSA form.

• If you have siblings, your parent can use the same FSA ID to sign FAFSA forms for all of his or her children. Your parent can also transfer his or her information into your sibling’s application by choosing the option provided on the FAFSA confirmation page.

• We recommend signing the FAFSA form with an FSA ID because it’s the fastest way to get your FAFSA form processed. However, if you and/or your parent are unable to sign the FAFSA form electronically with an FSA ID, you can mail in a signature page. From the sign and submit page, select “Other options to sign and submit” and then choose “Print A Signature Page.” Just keep in mind that your FAFSA form will take longer to process if you go this route. 

Congrats on finishing! Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns, we are happy to help!

Clarkson New Student Financial Aid Team!
Kara Pitts, Director
Erin Dumers, Financial Aid Advisor

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *