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Home » FAFSA, Federal Aid, Financial Aid News

FAFSA Workshop – Part 1: Essential Document Checklist

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Welcome to the Financial Aid Finder’s online FAFSA workshop. The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which is your key to the treasure chest of federal (and even some state) financial aid for college.

If you want to qualify for federal student loans, federal grants (that’s free money, people!) or federal work-study programs, you must fill out the FAFSA. Every college has its own deadline, so check with your school’s financial aid office immediately.

Female College Student Poses in Undergrad Library


In the meantime, you can start working your way through our five-part workshop on completing the FAFSA and maximizing your student aid award. Here’s a schedule of topics:

  1. Checklist of essential documentation
  2. What’s a PIN and how do you get one?
  3. FAFSA Blunders
  4. What’s your FAFSA deadline?
  5. FAFSA FAQs (if you have a FAFSA question, leave it in our comments section and I’ll be sure to respond in the FAQs post!)

This week, I am focusing on the essential documentation you need to complete your FAFSA. Don’t even bother trying to fill out your FAFSA if you don’t have every piece of paper on this checklist in one central location, okay?

Also, please note that you do NOT send the federal government all these documents. You use them to complete the FAFSA, which is the only document you send (by email or snail mail) to the federal government!

  • The FAFSA form (download a copy here)
  • Your Social Security Card
  • Your driver’s license (if you have one)
  • Your W-2 Forms
  • Any other records of money earned
  • Your Federal Income Tax Return — either the IRS 1040, 1040A, 1040 EZ; the Foreign Tax Return; or the Tax Return for Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Marshall Islands, the Federal States of Micronesia, or Palau
  • Your spouses’ Federal Income Tax Return (if you are married)
  • Your parents’ Federal Income Tax Return (if they still claim you as a dependent)
  • Your untaxed income records, including veterans’ benefits, child support and/or worker’s compensation
  • Your most recent bank statement
  • Your records of current investments, such as mortgage information, business or farm records, and/or records of stocks, bonds, or mutual fund. This includes retirement fund, as well as educational savings, such as the Coverdell ESA or a 529 Savings Plan in your name, whether it is held by you or your parents
  • Your alien registration or permanent resident card (if you are not a U.S. citizen)

You can complete your FAFSA on paper or on-line, but my recommendation is to do it on-line. You will save a lot of time and your application will be processed faster.

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