Learn more about degree programs at American Public University.
By Ryan Laspina
Senior Specialist, Red Flags and External Reviews at APUS
Note: This is the final of three articles on completing the FAFSA.
The goal of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is to establish your eligibility for Federal Student Aid (FSA).
In previous FAFSA articles in this series, we discussed the first three steps of the FAFSA and how they affect your eligibility for FSA. In this final part of the series, this article covers the final four steps on the FAFSA. These steps determine your FSA eligibility and Expected Family Contribution (EFC), an estimate of how much you and your family may reasonably contribute to your higher education costs.
Providing Parental Income and Tax Information in Step Four of the FAFSA
Your dependency status, as identified by answering the questions in Step Three, determines whether or not you need to fill out Step Four. If you answered “Yes” to any of the questions in Step Three, you are considered Independent and can skip Step Four.
However, if you answered “No” to every question in Step Three, you are considered a Dependent and your parent(s) will have to fill out Step Four.
Your parent(s) or legal guardian will need to provide all of their income and tax information, so make sure they have their documentation ready. If any of the financial questions do not pertain to them, they should answer “$0.”
Offering Household Size Information in Step Five
Step Five of the FAFSA assesses your household size, which affects your EFC. Only those students who answered “Yes” to any of the questions in Step Three must fill out Step Five. In other words, only those applicants who qualify as Independent on the FAFSA need to fill out this section.
Step Five asks you to provide three types of information:
- How many individuals are in your household
- How many of those individuals attend college
- If you receive any financial benefits for low-income families
Describing the Schools to Receive Your FAFSA in Step Six
Once you reach Step Six, all the heavy lifting is done. Step Six simply asks about the schools you want to receive your FAFSA. You can find the school codes from “School Code Search” on the homepage of fafsa.gov.
Verifying the Accuracy of Your Information in Step Seven
Step Seven is the final step. It requires you to attest to the accuracy of all answers and your signature. If the FAFSA required information from your parents, you will need one of their signatures as well.
Afterwards, review the information you provided, sign the FAFSA and include the current date on the form. You’re finished!
If you filled out the FAFSA on the Web, you can submit it electronically. If you printed out a hard copy, please send it to the address provided on the first page of the FAFSA.
The FAFSA can be an intimidating and stressful document to complete, because it is thorough and asks for a lot of financial information. Remember to take advantage of the FAFSA’s help section, as well as financial aid advisors at the school you attend or plan to attend.
Remember, the primary responsibility of paying school tuition falls upon you and your family. However, FSA eases the costs of financing your education.