Juniors: If you’re applying to college and want help to pay for it, you will need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, in your senior year.
You will be the first high school class to try out an all-new FAFSA. The U.S. government is introducing a simplified form, designed to be quicker to fill out than the current FAFSA. This overhaul is the biggest change in financial aid in decades.
The new FAFSA won’t be ready until next December, but experts say there is something you can and should do now: Set up your Federal Student Aid Identification Number, better known as an FSA ID.
You and at least one of your parents will need to create separate FSA IDs. Unlike years past, this must be done by both the student and the parent before starting the FAFSA.
It never hurts to be prepared. And the FSA ID system can get cranky when too many families are logging on. Spring is a quiet time for the FAFSA website.
More important: Getting an FSA ID is a crucial first step toward paying for college. Take care of it now, so you don’t have to scramble to get it done later. 🙂
To Get Started
Before you begin, make sure you have the following information on hand:
- A safe place to store your login information, password, security question information, and backup code
- Your family’s most recent tax forms so you can make sure your name and social security number match those forms exactly
- Your date of birth
- Your social security number
- A permanent email address (not your school email address)
- The cell phone and email you will be using for your account
Keep in mind that an email address and cell phone number can only be associated with one FSA ID. You and your parents can’t use the same email address and/or cell phone when setting up your individual FSA IDs. Also remember that you may be using this FSA ID for years to come. Use an email address and cell phone number that you plan to keep.
Create Your FSA ID
1. Look over Federal Student Aid’s tips for creating and using your FSA ID.
2. Go to https://studentaid.gov/fsa-id/create-account/launch and click the “Get Started” button.
3. Create a unique username and password that you will remember, then write or record this to keep it somewhere safe.
4. Enter your full name, date of birth, mailing address, language preference, and social security number. Make sure your name and social security number match the information on your parent(s) taxes.
5. Provide your email and cell phone information. Choose a permanent email address that you check frequently.
6. Answer the security questions. Choose questions that are facts, not opinions. Opinions can change over time.
7. Follow the prompts to enable two-step verification, linking your email address and/or your cell phone to your new FSA ID. It is best to set up both. This will make it easy to access your FSA account if you forget your username or password.
8. Record your one-time backup security code. This can be used to access your account if all else fails.
9. Verify that everything you’ve entered is correct. Carefully compare this information to the information on your family’s tax forms. Double and triple check. When you are ready, submit!
10. Congratulations! You have successfully created your FSA ID.
Type SLOWLY to avoid mistakes. If you realize you have made a mistake after you have created your FSA ID, contact Federal Student Aid to get help.
Sometimes the FSA ID website can get bogged down with too many users. Check out our Ten Tips for FSA ID Tech Troubles.