January 4, 2024

Required FAFSA Documents Explained

According to the Federal Student Aid site, the new and improved FAFSA form could take just 10 minutes to finish! But to set yourself up for a quick and painless experience, you should get some things in order first. Here’s everything you need, plus some tips on replacing anything you might’ve lost.

When you’re filling out FAFSA, you’re either going to be considered a dependent or an independent student. 

You’re a dependent if the government assumes that your parents will help you pay for school. If the government assumes you’ll be paying on your own, you’re an independent.  

To find out which you are, check the Federal Student Aid site’s criteria

There’s a few differences between the documents dependent and independent students need. We’ve noted those differences whenever they show up.

To fill out FAFSA, you need: 

  • An FSA ID

    • If you don’t have one, create yours here.

      • To create an ID, you need your Social Security Number and an email address. 

    • If you can’t remember your username or password, you can: 

    • For independents: If you’re married and file your taxes separately, your spouse also needs an ID.

  • Your Social Security Number (SSN)

    • This should be on your social security card. You can also ask a parent for this number. 

    • If you can’t find your card, you can check tax documents like your W-2, 1099, or your tax returns. 

    • If you can’t find any forms with your SSN on them, contact the Social Security Administration and ask them to replace your card

  • For dependents: One or both of your parents’ information.

    • To check whether you need one or both parents’ info, check out the Federal Student Aid site’s graphic

    • The info you’ll need is their: 

      • Legal name

      • SSN (if they have one)

      • Date of birth

      • Email address

      • 2022 tax returns

  • Your legal name and date of birth

    • If you’re not sure about either of those, you can check your birth certificate. 

    • If you’ve changed your legal name, you should have some documentation that reflects your updated legal name. 

    • If you need a copy of your birth certificate, check the US government’s guide

  • An email address

    • If you don’t have an email address, you can create one for free on a platform like Gmail. 

    • If you’re locked out of your email account, you can check with your provider to see their account recovery options. For example, here’s Gmail’s email recovery support page

  • Your 2022 federal income tax return

  • Your bank statements

    • To get your bank statements, log into your online banking account. There should be an option to download your statements. 

  • If applicable, a list of up to 20 schools you want to apply to. 

  • If you have a business, a mortgage, a farm, or if you’ve made any investments, you’ll need records of their net worth.

  • For independants: If you get child support, you need records of the payments you’ve received. 

  • If you’re not a U.S. citizen: Your U.S. Permanent Resident Card (Form I-151 or I-551C) or Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) with an eligible status.

Collecting the right documentation to have on hand will make your FAFSA experience short and successful. Remember that you don’t have to send any of these records anywhere—in fact, you should definitely keep a hold of them! 

If you need more personal help prepping for FAFSA or filling out your forms, Mos can be there for you every step of the way. 


  1. https://studentaid.gov/apply-for-aid/fafsa/filling-out


  1. https://studentaid.gov/announcements-events/fafsa-support

  2. https://studentaid.gov/apply-for-aid/fafsa/filling-out/dependency#:~:text=A%20dependent%20student%20is%20assumed,of%20the%20family's%20financial%20resources.

  3. https://studentaid.gov/fsa-id/sign-in/retrieve-username

  4. https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/investing/social-security/what-is-my-social-security-number#:~:text=Your%20Social%20Security%20number%20often,financial%20documents%20you%20have%20available.

  5. https://www.usa.gov/birth-certificate

  6. https://www.famemaine.com/affording-education/pay-for-school/get-financial-aid/fafsa/filing-the-2024-2025-fafsa/

  7. https://studentaid.gov/articles/things-you-need-for-fafsa/

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