8 Steps for Parents Completing the 2024–25 FAFSA® Form

FAFSA® Tips11 minutes

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form is necessary for students to be eligible to receive federal student aid. Schools use the FAFSA form and the information on it to determine your child’s eligibility and award aid. Additionally, states use the FAFSA form and FAFSA information to award their own aid. Your child will need to complete a FAFSA form every year they’re enrolled in school to receive aid.

Each school and state has its own deadline for completing the FAFSA form. Many states have limited funds available. Completing the FAFSA form by the applicable deadlines is the best way to ensure that your child is eligible for as much aid as possible for college, career school, or trade school.

Dependent students must provide parent information on the FAFSA form, and in most cases, a parent will be identified as a contributor on the form.

Visit the link above for information about how parents are identified as a contributor on their child’s FAFSA form.
Determine if you will be identified as a contributor on your child’s FAFSA® form with this infographic.

On the FAFSA form, a “contributor” is anyone required to provide information, consent and approval for the transfer of federal tax information, and a signature on the form. To learn what that means for you, watch our Understand and Prepare FAFSA® Form Contributors video.

We strongly recommend that your child, the student, start their own FAFSA form and complete their section first to save time and prevent errors. We know that isn’t always how it happens, though. Whether you’re starting the FAFSA form on behalf of your child or entering their form after being invited as a contributor, follow these steps to avoid running into issues completing the form and to help your child obtain federal student aid. These steps include creating your StudentAid.gov account ahead of time, providing consent and approval, filling out the required parent information, and signing the FAFSA form.


Create an account and gather documents.

Before you can access the FAFSA form online, you’ll need to create a StudentAid.gov account. Every contributor, including the student, must have an account to access and complete their sections of the form. If you don’t have a Social Security number, you’re still able to create an account.

IMPORTANT: Your child must have their own StudentAid.gov account. You cannot create an account for or share an account with your child.

Your StudentAid.gov account username and password serve as your legal electronic signature throughout the federal student aid process. Do not share your account username and password with anyone, not even your child. Your child also should not share their account log-in information with you. Keep your account secure. You’ll need it to help your child complete their FAFSA form each year and to access federal student aid information online.

Along with your StudentAid.gov account, there are other items you should have on hand to complete the FAFSA form:

  • Your child’s Social Security number (or A-number if they are an eligible noncitizen)
  • Your spouse’s name, date of birth, Social Security number (if they have one), and email address if you’re married
  • 2022 tax return documents, including federal income tax returns, W-2s, and other records of money earned from work for both you and your child (If you’re married and did not file taxes jointly with your spouse, you’ll also need your spouse’s tax information.)
  • Records of child support received
  • Bank statements and records of investments, businesses, and farms (if applicable) for you and your child

Once you have everything you need, including your StudentAid.gov account, you can start the FAFSA form.

If your child has already started their FAFSA form and has invited you as a contributor, follow the steps provided in the invitation email to enter their form. You can then jump to step four of this list.

The FAFSA® form is the student’s application and not yours. Students are encouraged to begin their FAFSA form and invite any additional contributors that are needed.


Start the FAFSA® form at StudentAid.gov

Go to fafsa.gov to be taken to the FAFSA home page, and then select “Start New Form.”

You’ll be directed to log in to your StudentAid.gov account. Once you’re logged in, you’ll be taken to the next page, where you will see two options. If you’re starting the FAFSA form on behalf of your child, choose “Parent.”

On the “Student Information” page, enter your child’s name, date of birth, Social Security number (if they have one), email address, mobile phone number, and address. Then, select “Continue.” Make sure to enter your child’s personal information exactly as it appears on their Social Security card or to match your child’s StudentAid.gov account if they already have one to avoid errors. (That’s right, no nicknames.)

If your child hasn’t started the FAFSA form yet, they’ll receive an email notifying them that a FAFSA form was started on their behalf. They can then follow the steps included in the email to enter the form and complete the student sections, provide their consent and approval, and sign the form.

Avoid an incomplete FAFSA® form. Even if you start the form on behalf of your child, they still need to enter the form to complete the student sections, provide their consent and approval, and sign the form.

After entering your child’s information, you’ll be taken through a series of four onboarding pages. These pages include a FAFSA form overview video, information about contributors, what to expect on the FAFSA form, and what happens after the form is submitted. On the final onboarding page, you can select “Start FAFSA Form.”

The onboarding pages of the FAFSA form provide an overview of what to expect when completing the form.
When you enter the 2024–25 FAFSA® form, you’ll be taken through a series of onboarding pages.

You’ll need to verify your child’s information on the “Student Identity Information” page and provide your child’s state of legal residence before you continue to the first section of the FAFSA form.


Complete the “Student Personal Circumstances” section.

In this section, you’ll respond to a series of specific questions to find out whether your child is a dependent or independent student. This dependency status will determine whether your child needs to provide your (parent) information on the FAFSA form. These questions include your child’s marital status, what grade level they will be for the 2024–25 school year, and whether any special circumstances or unusual circumstances apply to them.

After you’ve answered all the questions, the “Student Dependency Status” page will display, informing you whether your child has been identified as dependent, independent, or provisionally independent.

The law sets these dependency guidelines. They are different from those used by the IRS. Even if your child doesn’t live with you, supports themselves, or files taxes separately from you, we may still refer to them as a dependent student for federal student aid purposes.

If your child is a dependent student, your information will be required on their FAFSA form. If your child is an independent student, your information will not be required on their form.

Provide consent and approval.

When you enter the parent section of the FAFSA form, you will verify your own information on the first page. If you need to update your personal information that is listed, you’ll need to access your Account Settings on StudentAid.gov.

After verifying your personal information, you’ll be asked to provide consent and approval for the transfer of federal tax information directly from the IRS into the FAFSA form. Consent and approval are required for your child to be eligible for federal student aid. Watch our What Does It Mean To Provide Consent and Approval on the 2024–25 FAFSA® Form? video to understand what you agree to when you provide consent and approval.

Providing consent and approval does not make you financially responsible for your child’s education costs. However, if you choose to take out a parent PLUS loan to help with your child’s education, you will take on financial responsibility for that loan after signing your Master Promissory Note.

The FAFSA® form is an application and not an obligation for loans. Signing a Master Promissory Note makes an individual financially responsible.


Complete the “Parent Demographics” section.

The “Parent Demographics” section is where you’ll provide your own demographic information. This includes your marital status and your state of legal residence.

When selecting your marital status in this section, you should follow this guide:

  • Not currently married—select “Single (Never Married)”
  • Currently married—select “Married (not Separated)”
  • Divorced or separated but currently living together—select “Unmarried and both legal parents living together”
  • Divorced and not currently living together—select “Divorced”
  • Separated and not currently living together—select “Separated”
  • Divorced or separated from your child’s other legal parent but remarried—select “Remarried”

Your response to the marital status question, as well as your tax filing status in the next section, will determine whether additional contributors are needed. If you’re married, divorced, separated, or remarried, your child’s other parent and/or your current spouse may need to participate on your child’s FAFSA form.


Complete the “Parent Financials” section.

While providing consent and approval allows for the transfer of your federal tax information directly from the IRS into the FAFSA form, there is additional information you’ll need to provide about your financials. For the 2024–25 FAFSA form, your answers should reflect your 2022 tax return.

The required information includes

  • federal benefits you or anyone in your family received;
  • your tax filing status and whether you filed jointly with your spouse;
  • your family size and whether it’s changed since filing your 2022 tax return;
  • how many people in your family will be in college between July 1, 2024, and June 30, 2025;
  • if you received Earned Income Credit;
  • the dollar amount of college grants, scholarships, or AmeriCorps benefits reported as income to the IRS;
  • the dollar amount of Foreign Earned Income Exclusion;
  • child support received;
  • the total of your cash, checking, and savings accounts;
  • the net worth of your businesses and investment farms; and
  • the net worth of your investments, including real estate.

You may be asked to provide additional information about your 2022 tax return manually. If this is the case, understand where to find the requested information on your 2022 IRS Form 1040.


Sign the FAFSA® form.

After completing the parent sections of the FAFSA form, you’ll have the chance to review all your answers and the information you provided. If you notice any errors, make sure you correct them before selecting “Continue.”

You’ll be taken to the signature page where you can review the terms and conditions of the FAFSA form. Remember, the FAFSA form is a legal document that you will electronically sign using your StudentAid.gov account username and password. Once you’ve reviewed the terms and conditions, you can select “Sign,” and your section of the form will be complete.

The signature page is where you’ll agree to the terms and conditions of the FAFSA form.
Don’t forget to sign your child’s FAFSA® form for the parent section to be complete.

If you were invited as a contributor on your student’s FAFSA form and if your child has already completed the required student section, you’ll be able to select “Sign and Submit” and complete the form as long as no additional contributor participation (such as, your child’s other parent or your spouse) is required.

After you sign the parent section, you can exit your child’s FAFSA® form, and your child can complete the remaining student sections and submit their form.


Have your child provide their information, consent and approval, and a signature.

For a FAFSA form to be considered complete, all contributors must provide their information, consent and approval, and signature on the form. This includes your child.

If you start the FAFSA form on your child’s behalf, remind them to enter their form. They can do so by following the steps included in their invite email or by logging in to their StudentAid.gov account and accessing the “My Activity” page.

Your child will need to enter their FAFSA form and complete the student sections of the form. This includes the “Student Demographics,” “Student Financials,” and “Select Schools” sections.

After your child provides the required information and their consent and approval and signs the form, the FAFSA form can be submitted.

Congrats, you completed the FAFSA® form!

Your child is one step closer to getting money for college, career school, or trade school once you’ve completed your part of their FAFSA form. Now that this major step is out of the way, learn what your child should do next after submitting the FAFSA form.

Your child will receive a confirmation email after the FAFSA form is submitted, and they’ll be able to log in to their StudentAid.gov account to check the processing status of their form.

Once your child’s FAFSA form is processed, your child will receive their FAFSA Submission Summary. Review it carefully with them.

If you or your child indicated unusual circumstances on the FAFSA form or if your family has special circumstances, such as significant changes to your family’s financial situation that should be taken into account, your child should contact their school’s financial aid office. The school may require documentation.

Remind your child to stay on the lookout for any communications from their school(s). This could include a request for additional information, forms, or signatures. Your child will also receive financial aid offers from their school(s). Understand what will be included and how you can help your child compare aid offers.