Parent College Coach Tip #45: Prepare for the FAFSA

fafsaChristmas is on the horizon and probably the last thing you want to do is prepare for the FAFSA. But if you have a senior who has applied to colleges, this should move up to the top of your to-do list. Once January 1 rolls around, the FAFSA will be available online and you should get it done by the end of January.

Here are just a few tips to help you get ready (and I promise it won’t take long!):

Gather documents

Filing the FAFSA will be much easier if you have everything together before starting. In fact, now is the perfect time to make sure everything is in order before the form goes live in January.

Here is a list of all the documents you will need:

  • Social security numbers
  • Student’s 2014 W-2s and tax returns
  • Parent’s 2014 W-2s and tax returns (if student is dependent)
  • Bank statements
  • Business financial statements (if student or parents own a business)
  • Citizenship records – alien registration or permanent resident card (if you are not a U.S. Citizen)

Apply for a FAFSA PIN now

In order to file your FAFSA form electronically online, you will need to sign it. This can be done electronically with a PIN. If this will be your very first time filing the FAFSA online and you are going to use an electronic PIN, you can apply for your FAFSA PIN now at Keep this PIN handy. You will reuse this PIN every time you want to access your FAFSA or your SAR (Student Aid Report), and you will reuse it every year that you apply. Both parents and students will need their own PIN.

As with any project, preparing in advance will help you complete the filing in a timely manner. And don’t forget–you don’t have to have your taxes filed before you submit the form. Use last year’s figures and update once your taxes are complete.


Check out this post: Top 5 FAFSA Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Read all of the Parent College Coach Tips here.