6 Things Students Need Before They Fill Out the 2024–25 FAFSA® Form

FAFSA® TipsFinancial Aid6 minutes

The 2024–25 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form will be available by Dec. 31, 2023—with some changes for you and your family. Get ready now so you can complete the FAFSA form as soon as it’s available at fafsa.gov. Here’s what you’ll need to access and complete your form.


Your StudentAid.gov Account

You’ll need to create a StudentAid.gov account to access and fill out the 2024–25 FAFSA form.

Your contributors will each need their own StudentAid.gov account too. “Contributor” is a new term on the 2024–25 FAFSA form—it refers to anyone (you, your spouse, your biological or adoptive parent, or your parent’s spouse) required to provide information on your FAFSA form.

As a student, you’ll be required to enter your Social Security number (SSN) to create a StudentAid.gov account unless you’re a citizen of the Freely Associated States. However, beginning with the 2024–25 FAFSA form, your contributors who don’t have an SSN can create a StudentAid.gov account to complete their section of your FAFSA form.

Tip: You can find your SSN on your Social Security card. If you don’t have access to it or don’t know where it is, you can request a new or replacement Social Security card from the Social Security Administration.

Create your StudentAid.gov account now so you’re ready to complete the FAFSA form as soon as it launches.

For guidance on how to create an account, watch Create and Access Your StudentAid.gov Account.


Your Contributor Information

When you fill out the FAFSA form, you’ll answer questions that will determine who needs to be a contributor on your form. However, you may be able to identify your contributors now to get a head start on collecting the information you’ll need to invite them to your form.

To find out if your parent(s) will be a contributor on your FAFSA form, check out the Is My Parent a Contributor When I Fill Out My FAFSA® Form? infographic.

If your parents are divorced the parent who provided more financial support over the past 12 months, they will be identified as a contributor on your FAFSA form. But if both parents provided equal amounts of financial support, or if your parents don’t support you financially at all, the parent with the greater income and assets will be identified as a contributor. View the image below to get a better understanding of what happens if your parents are divorced and provide you with equal financial support.

In the case of divorced parents where each parent provides the same amount of financial support, the parent with greater income and assets will be identified as a contributor on the FAFSA form.
Which Divorced Parent Will Be Identified As a Contributor on My FAFSA® Form?
Lindsey is a sophomore in college. Lindsey’s parents are divorced, and each parent provides $1,000 of financial support every month. Lindsey isn’t sure which parent will be identified as a contributor on the FAFSA form.
Parent AParent B
Annual Income: $60,000
Current Value of Assets: $80,000
Annual Income: $120,000
Current Value of Assets: $100,000
The answer is
Parent B
Because Parent B earns more income and has greater assets, they will be identified as a contributor on Lindsey’s FAFSA form.

If you are married (and not separated) and filed taxes jointly with your spouse, then you will report your spouse’s information on the FAFSA form but they will not be identified as a contributor. But if you’re married (and not separated) and didn’t file taxes jointly, your spouse will be considered a contributor on your FAFSA form.

To invite contributors to your FAFSA form, you’ll be asked to provide their

  • first and last name,
  • SSN (if they have one),
  • date of birth, and
  • email address.

Note: Being identified as a contributor on the FAFSA form won’t make your family member responsible for paying for your education costs.


Your 2022 Federal Income Tax Return

Beginning on the 2024–25 FAFSA form, you and your contributors must provide consent and approval to have your federal tax information transferred directly from the IRS into your FAFSA form. Providing consent and approval is mandatory, even if you or your contributors don’t have an SSN, didn’t file a tax return, or filed a tax return outside the U.S.

Watch What Does It Mean To Provide Consent and Approval on the 2024–25 FAFSA® Form? for more information. 

If you or your contributors don’t provide consent and approval to have your federal tax information transferred into the FAFSA® form, you won’t be eligible for federal student aid.

You and your contributors should have your tax returns on hand when you fill out the FAFSA form. Even though your tax information will be transferred directly into the FAFSA form, you may still need your tax records to answer certain questions.

Make sure you report 2022 income on the 2024–25 FAFSA form. Do not use your 2023 tax information. We understand that for some families, the 2022 income doesn’t accurately reflect your current financial situation. If you or a contributor on your form had a significant change in income since the 2022 tax year, you should still complete the FAFSA form with 2022 tax information. Then, contact the school where you plan to attend and explain and document the change in income. School officials can assess your situation and may adjust your FAFSA form if warranted.

Note: You can’t update your 2024–25 FAFSA form with your 2023 tax information after filing a 2023 tax return. The 2024–25 FAFSA form requires 2022 information.


Records of Your Untaxed Income

You and your contributors may need to answer FAFSA questions about untaxed income, such as child support and interest income.

Remember: On the 2024–25 FAFSA form, you’ll use 2022 tax or calendar year information to answer these questions.


Records of Your Assets

The FAFSA form will ask you and your contributors questions about your assets, so make sure you have records of your savings and checking account balances, as well as the value of any investments, such as stocks, bonds, and real estate (excluding your primary residence). Report the current amounts of your assets as of the date you sign the FAFSA form, rather than reporting the 2022 tax year amounts.

Share the Gather Information Required To Complete the FAFSA® Form video with your contributors to help them understand which records they may need on hand to complete their sections of the form.


List of Schools You’re Interested in Attending

Be sure to add any colleges, career schools, or trade schools you’re considering, even if you haven’t applied or been accepted yet. You can list up to 20 schools on the online 2024–25 FAFSA form.

Even if there’s only a slight chance you’ll apply to a school, list it on your FAFSA form. You can always remove a school later if you decide not to apply, but if you wait to add a school, you could miss out on financial aid.

After your FAFSA form is processed, the schools you list on the form will receive your FAFSA results electronically. They’ll use your FAFSA information to determine the types and amounts of financial aid you may receive. We’ll send an email to let you know when your information has been shared with your schools.

If you add a school to your FAFSA form and later decide not to apply for admission, that’s OK! The school likely won’t offer you aid until you’ve been accepted anyway.

Tip: Several states require you to list schools in a particular order to be considered for state aid. For instance, you might need to list a state school first. Find out whether your state has a requirement for the order you list schools on your FAFSA form.

Ready to apply for federal student aid?

Once the 2024–25 FAFSA form becomes available, you can start your form at fafsa.gov. Learn more about filling out the FAFSA form on the “How To Fill Out the FAFSA® Application” page.