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

Filing your FAFSA will show you what federal and state scholarships, grants, and work-study opportunities you could be eligible for as well as how much money you can borrow in federal loans. Colleges use this information to determine what institutional-based aid you could also receive.

Who should file the FAFSA?

Anyone who is considering attending college in the upcoming academic year 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 StudentAid.Gov. 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:

Who needs to create an FSA ID?

Students (and student’s spouse if applicable) as well as the student’s parent(s) (if applicable) will be required to create an FSA ID to file the FAFSA.

  • Dependent students will need their parent(s) to also create an FSA ID. To determine if you are a dependent or independent student, visit the FAFSA dependency status page.
  • Parents (biological or adoptive) will need to create an FSA ID for dependent students filing the FAFSA. If parents are married or living together, both parents will be considered contributors.
  • If a parent(s) does not have a social security number, they can still create an FSA ID. They should not use their ITIN number in place of a social security number, but they will be required to provide their mailing address.
  • If a student’s parents are separated, the parent who provides the most financial support to the student will be considered the contributor. If both parents equally support, the contributor is the parent who has the greater income or assets.
Students and parents should try to create their FSA IDs up to 7 days PRIOR to beginning the FAFSA application. This allows for your tax information to link to your FSA ID, allowing the information to automatically sync. If you do not wait for your account to sync, you may be asked to manually input that information.

Information needed to create an FSA ID

The FSA ID process consists of these main steps:

  • Access the “Create Account” page
  • Provide a unique username
  • Enter your email address (do not use school or work email)
  • Provide a unique password
  • Provide your name, date of birth, and Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Provide your mailing address
  • Provide your mobile phone number
  • Select your language preference
  • For security purposes, complete the challenge questions and answers
  • Confirm and verify your information
  • Agree to the terms and conditions
  • Confirm your two-step verification method, selecting either to verify through email or text message, and choosing to add an authenticator app if desired

After creating your account, you will be given a backup code. Save that code, as it can be used to log into your account if you are locked out.

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What documents do you need?

With the new FAFSA, your tax information should automatically sync with your application. This is why it is recommended to create your FSA ID up to 7 days prior to filing the FAFSA. If your account does not sync, you will need to input your tax information manually.

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’ most recent federal tax returns (IRS forms 1040, 1040EZ or 1040A) For the 2024-2025 FAFSA, this would be 2022 tax returns
  • Net worth of any businesses, investments, or farms
  • Current balances of cash, savings, and checking accounts
  • Record of child support received (if applicable)
  • Alien registration numbers or permanent residence cards if you or your parents/guardians are not U.S. citizens.
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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.

Early 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.

Helpful Hint: Use The Financial Aid Direct Data Exchange

When you get to the income portion of filing the FAFSA, you can choose to consent to the direct data exchange (DDX). This allows the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to send your federal tax information to the FAFSA. Every contributor on the FAFSA application should consent to the DDX, even if they did not file taxes that year (2022). The FAFSA uses your tax information to determine your Student Aid Index (SAI) which is used as a guide for how much financial aid you qualify for.

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! 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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