FAFSA Prep Checklist

FAFSA Prep Checklist

It typically takes less than 30 minutes to complete the FAFSA if you work together as a family and gather what you need ahead of time.

If you are a U.S. citizen living abroad, please review these important notes.

  1. Create an FSA ID

    To file the FAFSA, you (the student) need a Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID) – a username and password that gives you access to Federal Student Aid’s online systems and can serve as your legal signature. We recommend you complete this step about a week before you file the FAFSA.

    If you are considered a dependent for federal aid purposes, at least one parent also needs an FSA ID. To determine who needs to report information on the FAFSA, please review this guide.

    Parents should not create their student's FSA ID for them, nor should students create one for their parent(s). Parents and students should use unique email addresses and phone numbers to create their FSA IDs. Do not use the same email address or phone number as your parent for your FSA ID. View more FSA ID tips.

  2. Gather your documents

    Depending on your circumstances, you (the student) may need:

    • Your Social Security Number (or Alien Registration Number if you are an eligible non-U.S. citizen)
    • Your driver’s license number (if you have one)
    • Federal tax information or tax returns including IRS W-2 information
      • Note: If you can, it is recommended to transfer your federal tax return information into your FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.
    • Bank statements and records of investments (if applicable)
    • Records of untaxed income (if applicable)

    If you are considered a dependent for federal aid purposes, at least one parent will also need most of the above information. If you are married, your spouse will need most of the above information.

    The 2023–2024 FAFSA (for the school year beginning with the Fall 2023 semester) will collect 2021 financial information unless the question is specifically requesting current information.

    View more information about required documents

  3. Review tips from the experts

    The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) has put together a helpful list of FAFSA Tips & Common Mistakes to Avoid. We recommend your family review this webpage together before filing the FAFSA.

  4. Set aside time to file the FAFSA as a family

    Filing the FAFSA can be overwhelming, especially for the first time. Creating FSA IDs ahead of time, gathering documents now and setting aside some time to work together with your family will make the experience much less stressful.

Getting help

Other questions may be directed to JBU's FAFSA Specialist:

Bradonia Napier
FAFSA Specialist
(479) 524-7178

Notes for U.S. citizens living abroad

  • When completing the Untaxed Income section of the FAFSA, note the question for "Housing and other living allowances paid to members of the clergy." Any housing or other type of living allowance that is not included in your W-2 wages (but is reported to the IRS Schedule SE) should be included in the Untaxed Income section FAFSA.
  • Because the analysis builds in an allowance for your FICA tax, do not include self-employment tax on FAFSA question 86. On question 86, use only the amount from form 1040 line 55.
  • If you also pay tax to the country in which you reside, do not include that tax on line 85.