How to Apply for Financial Aid
If you use financial aid to help cover the cost of your education, you must apply each year. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is available on October 1 of each year. It is important that you file your FAFSA by April 6 in order to make sure that it is received by the Federal Processing Center (CPS) no later than April 15. FAFSAs received (by the CPS) after April 15 will not be considered for state grants.
Review the following checklist and helpful tips to make sure you don't miss an important step as you apply. You may also review costs as well as available aid, eligibility, alternative options and access additional forms that will assist you in your process.
Get ready to file the FAFSA
Need to create your FSA ID?First-time FAFSA filers should first apply for an FSA ID at studentaid.gov/fsaid. The FSA ID consists of a username and password selected by the user. Activation may take one to three business days. Please note: Each FSA ID user must have a unique email address.
What will you need to file your FAFSA?
You will need your FSA ID, Social Security number, prior prior year federal tax returns (i.e. 2016 for 2018-19's FAFSA), driver’s license, bank statements and investment account statements. Permanent residents and eligible noncitizens will also need Alien Registration numbers. A FAFSA worksheet or a paper FAFSA may be obtained from the fafsa.gov site; either of these tools can provide a template from which you can plan your FAFSA detail prior to actually completing your application.
What if you have not filed your prior prior year federal taxes yet?
Most taxpayers will have filed a federal return for the prior prior tax year by the October 1 date that new FAFSA applications become available. However, if due to unusual circumstances you, a parent (if a dependent student), or a spouse (if an independent student) were unable to file prior prior year federal tax returns by the FAFSA filing deadline of April 15, the student may use estimated financial information and simply indicate that he/she “will file” taxes within the FAFSA. Tips for estimating: Use W2s and other earnings’ statements as your source(s) for income.
What is the IRS Data Retrieval Tool within the FAFSA?
The IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) is a linking option that allows students and parents of dependent students to retrieve federal tax information directly from the IRS and transfer the data directly into the student’s FAFSA. Although using DRT within the FAFSA on the Web is typically the preferred option, the tool is deactivated for the 2017-18 FAFSA form but is available when filing the 2018-19 FAFSA. For students needing to file a 2017-18 FAFSA, tax information should be manually entered within the application. There are students who should not use the DRT option: (1) Students who are married as well as parents of dependent students who are married but file federal taxes separately from their spouse (2) Students or parents of dependent students who were married or single at the time of tax filing but have since separated, divorced, widowed or married/remarried as of the FAFSA filing date.
Why is it important to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool?
For students and parents of dependent students, if you are able to transfer your federal tax information directly from the IRS into your FAFSA and you do not alter the fields, you minimize the need to provide copies of your federal tax return transcripts (if selected for verification).
NEW to 2018-19's FAFSA form: Will I be able to see the tax information that will transfer from the IRS site over into my FAFSA?
No. While on the IRS site, once the student successfully locates his/her prior prior year tax return information and checks the option to transfer the data over into his/her FAFSA, the specific fields that transfer will simply be marked as “transferred from the IRS.” The student will not be able to see the information but can trust that the data is accurate. This transfer method during DRT is meant to protect the student and the parent(s) of dependent students by masking the information. The school, however, will have access to this information so that the student’s FAFSA may be properly reviewed and packaged with aid.
Can you go back into your FAFSA and use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool after you have already submitted a FAFSA and keyed the tax information manually?
Yes. If you chose to manually enter prior prior tax year information for the student or parent(s) of a dependent student and have since been selected for verification, you may make a FAFSA correction to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to transfer the information from the IRS site over into the student’s FAFSA. Go to FAFSA.gov, log into the student’s FAFSA record, select “Make FAFSA Corrections,” and navigate to the Financial Information section(s) of the form. From there, follow the instructions to determine if you and/or your parent(s) are eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to transfer your prior prior year IRS income tax information into your FAFSA.
How to file the FAFSA
Go to the FAFSA website at fafsa.gov and click “Start a New FAFSA.” If you filled out a FAFSA last year and want to renew it, click "Login" and select "FAFSA Renewal."
Enter either your (the student's) FSA ID or personal information to log in to the FAFSA on the Web.
- Near the beginning, you'll create a "save key" which you can use to start your FAFSA, save it without finishing, and open it later to finish.
Complete non-financial sections of the FAFSA. These sections include: Student demographics, school selection, dependency status, and parent demographics.
Complete parent (if dependent student) and student financial sections of the FAFSA. You may refer to your FAFSA worksheet, earnings statements, bank statements, and investment account statements. Within this section, both parent and student will be offered the option to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to view and transfer prior prior year federal tax information.
Sign and submit your FAFSA. Be sure to sign your FAFSA with your FSA ID (username and password). For dependent students, your parent must also sign using his/her FSA ID. Once you see your confirmation page, you'll know you've successfully submitted your FAFSA. Print this page for your records.
Complete other tasks
- Complete the online UIndy Aid Application (UAPP). The UAPP will be used to prepare aid for semesters I and II.
Selected for verification?
Complete all verification forms requested by the Office of Financial Aid. The most common request will include a verification worksheet and a copy of your and/or your parent(s)’ prior prior year federal tax return transcript.
Need summer aid?
You must first register for your summer courses and then complete a
Critical undergraduate reminder: If the FAFSA is not received by the Federal Central Processing Center by April 15, you will not be eligible for state grant money.