FAFSA® Quick Tip: This Checklist Will Simplify Filing

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FAFSA® season is right around the corner, so it’s time to get prepared!

For most students, the most difficult part about filing their FAFSA® is getting all the paperwork together. So, here’s a list of everything you need and where to find it.

Social Security Number

The first thing you’ll need to track down is your social security number. The best place to find this is on your social security card. If you don’t know where your social security card is, don’t worry, you can always order a new one!

If you don’t have time to wait for a new card to arrive, you can find your social security number in a few other places like your bank statements or W-2’s.

Tax Information

Next, you’ll need your federal income tax returns, also known as W-2’s. Since FAFSA® opens on October 1st, you’ll need your tax information from last year. This means, for the 2020-2021 school year, you’ll need your tax information from 2018.

It’s easy to misplace documents that are more than a year old, so if you can’t find them, the easiest thing to do is use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. If you filed your taxes electronically, this will pull all the information you need and automatically fill in the FAFSA® for you.

If you didn’t file taxes electronically and you can’t seem to find your W-2’s, all you have to do is reach out to your employer. They’ll be able to supply you with a new copy!

Alien Registration Number *

Your Alien Registration Number, also known as your A-Number or USCIS#, is an 8- or 9-digit number that can be found on your Permanent Resident Card (also known as a green card).

If your card has been lost or stolen, you can contact the US Citizenship & Immigration Services office to request a new one.


Your FSA ID is used to confirm your identity when accessing your financial aid information and electronically signing your federal student aid documents.

You will not be able to submit your FAFSA® without one. If this is your first-year filing FAFSA®, you can sign up for your FSA ID by clicking here.

If this isn’t your first year, but you’ve forgotten your username or password, don’t worry, just click here for instructions to log back into your account.

What if I’m a dependent student?

Both dependent and independent students need the same documents. The only difference is, dependent students will use their parents’ tax returns to file.

Ready, Set, Go!

Now that you know what you’re going to need to file FAFSA®, get those documents together early! The application opens on October 1st, and the earlier you file, the better your chances of maximizing your financial aid!