The Ultimate FAFSA Guide for Hoosiers

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What is the FAFSA?

The Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the most important document for determining if you’re eligible for financial aid — money to help you pay for college.

There are 4 different types of financial aid that you could receive.


Money for college that doesn’t have to be paid back


Money for college based on merit, talent or academic study

Work Study

Different types of academic related jobs that can help students earn money while taking classes

Student Loans

Money that students receive to help pay for college but they have to pay back at a later date

After you file your FAFSA, colleges will be able to tell you which scholarships and grants you could receive as well as how much money you can borrow in federal loans.

Who should file the FAFSA?

Anyone who is considering attending college should file the FAFSA. This includes high school seniors and current college students.

Why should I file the FAFSA?

Filing the FAFSA opens up the doors to managing the costs of your future education. Even if you’re not sure where you will be next year, filing the FAFSA will give you the most amount of options. If you are already in school and receiving financial aid, you could possibly discover that you’re eligible for more financial aid than you realized.

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How to file the FAFSA

The easiest way to file the FAFSA is online at the FAFSA website. The website also provides a printer-friendly PDF if you prefer to mail your FAFSA. Remember – you should NEVER pay any money to file the FAFSA. It is free.

Here are the steps you’ll take when filling out the FAFSA:

Step 1.

Create Your FSA ID

The FSA ID process consists of these main steps:

  • Access the “Create Account” page.
  • Provide a unique username.
  • Enter your email address.
  • Provide a unique password.
  • Provide your name, date of birth, and Social Security number (SSN).
  • Provide your mailing address.
  • Select your language preference.
  • Provide your mobile phone number. Select the box to indicate if you would like to register your mobile phone to receive one-time secure codes if you forget your username or password. (You will be required to provide either your email address or your mobile phone number and to opt in to messaging before you can proceed.)
  • For security purposes, complete the challenge questions and answers.
  • Confirm and verify your information.
  • Agree to the terms and conditions.

Step 2.

Gather The Necessary Documents

Make sure you have the following documents prepared before you file the FAFSA:

  • Your Federal Student Aid ID (the FSA ID is a username and password you can create on the FAFSA website; see the section above for details on getting an FSA ID)
  • Your Social Security number (found on a Social Security card)
  • Your driver’s license number (if you have a driver’s license)
  • Your and/or your parents’/guardians’ most recent federal tax returns (IRS forms 1040, 1040EZ or 1040A)
  • Records of money earned, including W-2 forms and recent bank statements
  • Alien registration numbers or permanent residence cards, if you or your parents/guardians are not U.S. citizens.

Step 3.

Answer The FAFSA Questions

The FAFSA has many different questions concerning your personal information, your family’s income information and information on the colleges you are interested in attending.

Watch the following video to receive a more comprehensive look at what types of questions the FAFSA will ask.

Helpful Hint: Use The IRS Data Retrieval Tool

When you get to the income portion of filing the FAFSA, select the “IRS Data Retrieval Tool” option. On the IRS website, enter the requested information exactly as it appears on your tax return. If you get an error that there’s no match, double-check your information, including the exact mailing address on your return. If you use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to transfer your tax return information from the IRS, the information won’t display on the FAFSA form. For your protection, our system replaces the answer to each question with “Transferred from the IRS.”

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What is the deadline for FAFSA?

Indiana’s priority deadline for filing the FAFSA each year is April 15. Financial Aid is provided on a first-come, first-served basis beyond April 15. It is strongly recommended students file the FAFSA as soon as possible when the form opens each year.

It’s important to remember that all students must file the FAFSA every year while in college. And, students in 21st Century Scholars must file, even if they’re not planning on enrolling in the fall immediately after high school graduation.

Improve Your Chances of Receiving the Most Financial Aid

To improve your chances of getting the most financial aid, file your FAFSA as early as possible.

Earlier deadlines

You should ALWAYS check with your college/the colleges you hope to attend to make sure they don’t have an earlier deadline. Some colleges also have additional financial aid paperwork, so make sure you aren’t missing anything important.

Certain scholarships may also require you to file your FAFSA at different times. Students applying for the Mitch Daniels Early Graduation Scholarship must file the FAFSA in their junior year of high school.

Which colleges should I include in my FAFSA?

You should include any college that you think you might attend in the fall. If you don’t include at least one college, your FAFSA will be rejected for state financial aid.

College Codes for Indiana Schools

Each college and university has their own codes. When you are filing the FAFSA, you will have to put the codes of the schools you are interested in attending on your FAFSA.

You can find codes at the FAFSA website by using the Federal School Code Search.
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I need help filling out my FAFSA

Let’s be honest – the FAFSA can be difficult to fill out, making it a daunting process for students and their families. The good news is that free help is available! Need help filing or a reminder for when the 2023-24 FAFSA opens? Please complete the FAFSA Affirmation Form below, which will allow you to receive step-by-step support from an Indiana-based professional. 


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