How to Complete the FAFSA (2018)

Dec 10, 2018   |   Success Tips
How to Complete the FAFSA

Pursuing the unknown can be scary. But when the unknown involves furthering your education, you shouldn’t feel overwhelmed. Instead, you should be excited to pursue this new chapter of your life!

Yet, statistics show that many college students fear they won’t qualify for financial aid, assume they don’t need it, or think they’ll be forced to take out loans. Because of these common misconceptions, students don’t file a FAFSA® – the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.1

Filing a FAFSA is the first step towards determining financial aid eligibility, including assistance from the federal and state government, colleges and scholarships.1 Each year, the U.S. Department of Education awards over $120 billion in federal student aid.2 Your eligibility cannot be determined if you don’t apply. So, submitting your FAFSA can be advantageous because you may qualify for financial assistance.

When Should I Apply for Financial Aid?

Each year, the FAFSA opens on October 1st. Submit your FAFSA as soon as possible to determine potential financial assistance. If you have not submitted your FAFSA for the 2018-19 school year, you should complete FAFSA applications for both the 2018-19 and the 2019-20 academic years as soon as possible. Be aware of the 2018-19 FAFSA deadlines for federal aid and contact your CTU financial aid advisor if you have questions or need help.

Where Can I Access the FAFSA?

You may access the application forms for both the 2018-19 and 2019-20 academic years on the FAFSA website. However, only the 2019-20 FAFSA is available via the new myStudentAid app in the Apple App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android) store. You can also download a PDF of either application and complete the forms by hand. Lastly, printed versions of both PDF FAFSA forms may be ordered by calling 1-800-4-FEDAID (1-800-433-3243).3

What Info Do I Need to Complete the FAFSA?

As you prepare to fill out your FAFSA form, you may want to gather certain information before you begin. This includes the following:4

  • CTU’s school codes
    • 010148 for online students
    • 010148 for Colorado Springs campus students
    • E00840 for Aurora campus students
  • Tax information from the past one to two years, depending on when you submit, including:
    • Income tax return or estimated income
    • W-2 forms
    • Other records if income earned
  • Records of untaxed income
  • Current bank statements
  • Current mortgage information
  • Business and farm records
  • Records of investments
  • Student’s driver’s license
  • Social Security card or Alien Registration number

If you’re a dependent student, you will also need your parents’ Social Security numbers and tax information. If you are an independent student who is married, you will need your spouse’s information as well as your own.4 Additionally, if you are eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to electronically transfer federal tax information to your FAFSA form, then you may not need hard copies of your tax information on hand.

What is An FSA ID and When Should I Create One?

You must create a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID before starting your FAFSA form if you haven’t signed up for one previously. An FSA ID is your username and password, and it will serve as your electronic signature. If you are a dependent student, your parent(s) must also create an FSA ID. You will use your FSA ID each year you apply for federal aid.4

How Do I Complete the FAFSA Electronically?

You may start, complete, and submit a new FAFSA form or a renewal form for the 2018-19 processing cycle on the FAFSA Website. The 2019-20 form may be completed on either the website or via the new myStudentAid app.

If you already filed a 2018–19 FAFSA form, then you may see the "FAFSA RENEWAL" button on the website. Certain information will be prefilled on your 2019–20 FAFSA from your 2018–19 FAFSA form, allowing you to save time. If you have not yet completed the 2018-19 FAFSA, it may be useful to complete both forms on the FAFSA Website.

Website Users

If you are completing the 2018-19 or 2019-20 FAFSA forms on the website and are new to the process, you will select the "Start Here" button. If you are a returning user, you will select the "Login" button. As you begin, you will see the instructions for each question. You can access additional help by selecting the question mark icon located to the right of the question.3

You may use the "skip logic" feature to skip questions that do not apply to you. Hence, you may be able to automatically skip some questions based on your answers to initial questions. For example, if you are considered an independent student, you won’t need to provide your parents’ financial information. The fafsa.gov site will only present the questions you need to answer.3 You will also be prompted to enter the codes for the schools to which you are applying (as noted above).

myStudentAid App Users

If you are completing the 2019-20 FAFSA form via the new myStudentAid app, you may customize your experience as either the student, parent or preparer. Guidance for completing the FAFSA questions is also provided.5 As you complete your form, you will be prompted to list the institutions to which you are applying, just like on the FAFSA Website, and you must enter the applicable CTU school codes.

Again, if you have not yet completed the 2018-19 FAFSA, submit your form on the FAFSA Website as soon as possible.

Use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool

Eligible students and parents can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) to electronically transfer federal tax information to their FAFSA form.

To begin, you will click "Link to IRS." However, if you previously used the IRS DRT to transfer your tax return information to your application, you will click "View option to link to the IRS."

Next, you will enter your FSA ID. If you entered in your FSA ID when you first began your FAFSA, you will not be asked to enter it again. Finally, your FAFSA will be saved, and you should be transferred to the IRS website. Enter the requested information as it shows on your tax return and complete the subsequent steps as prompted.

Finally Submitting the FAFSA

Once your application is complete, you must sign the form. Your FSA ID will serve as your electronic signature. If you provided parent information, one parent will also need to sign the form using his or her FSA ID.6 You should see a confirmation page after you sign and submit your form. This page will show that you have successfully submitted your FAFSA application.3 You may print this page if desired.

The U.S. Department of Education will process your application and send your information to the institutions you listed. Furthermore, you may not need to complete the full form again next year. Instead, you may be sent a "Renewal FAFSA" form to your home address.

Where Can I Seek FAFSA Support?

Planning your education budget doesn’t have to be overwhelming. A helpful way to track your financial aid document status is through the CTU Mobile app. A checklist of outstanding financial aid documents required for the current or future academic year will be listed in the app’s Financial Aid tab. You can also view the Financial Aid section of the Virtual Campus on a desktop.

If you have questions about financial aid options, scholarships or completing your FAFSA, you can contact your financial aid advisor directly through the CTU Mobile app or by calling 866-813-1836 (option 1). The Department of Education also provides free help online or you can call 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243).6


1. Hodara, Michelle. “What does the research say about barriers to FAFSA completion and strategies to boost completion?” Education Northwest. Published January 17, 2017. Accessed October 20, 2018. https://educationnorthwest.org/sites/default/files/resources/FAFSA-research%20handout-jan2017.pdf
2. “Completing the FAFSA® Form 2018–19.” Federal Student Aid. Accessed October 20, 2018. https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/sites/default/files/2018-19-completing-fafsa.pdf
3. “Completing the FAFSA® Form 2019–20.” Federal Student Aid. Accessed October 24, 2018. https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/sites/default/files/2019-20-completing-fafsa.pdf
4. “Filling Out the FAFSA® Form.” Federal Student Aid. Accessed October 20, 2018. https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa/filling-out
5. “2019–20 FAFSA® Form Now Available With More Mobile Options.” Federal Student Aid. Accessed October 20, 2018. https://financialaidtoolkit.ed.gov/tk/announcement-detail.jsp?id=fafsa-mobile-options
6. “2019-2020 FAFSA on the Web Worksheet.” Federal Student Aid. Accessed October 20, 2018. https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/sites/default/files/2019-20-fafsa-worksheet.pdf

Colorado Technical University cannot guarantee employment or salary. Financial aid is available for those who qualify.
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