It is important to let students know how to fill out the FAFSA so they can pursue postsecondary education with as much financial aid as possible. This year, there are changes that make it easier for youth experiencing homelessness and youth from foster care to complete the FAFSA. Direct outreach to all students is crucial, since many students may be experiencing homelessness or in foster care, but have not yet been identified by school staff. The FAFSA can be a way to identify these students and provide them with additional support.
The email template below can be used by school district liaisons, high school counselors, service providers, and financial aid administrators to inform students that the FAFSA is available, and specific steps to help them complete the application. We made this resource available as a template that may be edited to meet the specific needs of your students and your organization/school.
Subject line: It’s FAFSA Time!
The 2023-2024 FAFSA is now open! Did you know that the earlier you apply, the more money for school you can get?
Please see below for steps you should take and things to consider. Reach out to [INSERT NAME HERE] if you’d like help completing your application.
Step 1. Determine if You Need to Include Parental Information
If you meet any of the following eligibility requirements, you are an independent student and do not need to include parental information on the FAFSA.
- Over the age 24
- A Graduate or professional student
- A veteran
- A member of the armed forces
- An orphan
- A ward of the court
- Someone with legal dependents other than a spouse
- An emancipated minor
- A youth who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless
Homelessness on the FAFSA means you are an unaccompanied homeless youth. You are not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian and meet one of these living situations:
- Staying with other people temporarily because you lost your housing or similar reason;
- Staying in a shelter;
- Staying in a motel/hotel due to lack of alternatives;
- Staying in a car or other unsheltered situation;
- Living in a campus residence hall but otherwise would have nowhere else to go
If you are experiencing homelessness but you are in the physical custody of your parents or guardians, or if you do not meet any of the above requirements, you DO need to include parental information and you will include your parent or guardians’ information in the parent section of the FAFSA.
2. Gather the Documents You Need
- Your Social Security number
- Your driver’s license number if you have one
- Your Alien Registration number if you are not a U.S. citizen
- Federal tax information or tax returns including IRS W-2 information, for you (and your spouse, if you are married), and for your parents if you are a dependent student: IRS 1040
- Records of your untaxed income, such as child support received, interest income, and veterans non-education benefits, for you, and for your parents if you are a dependent student Information on cash; savings and checking account balances; investments, including stocks and bonds and real estate (but not including the home in which you live); and business and farm assets for you, and for your parents if you are a dependent student
- If you are with your family, you will need your parents’ Social Security numbers
3. Login to FAFSA.GOV and Begin your Application
- Visit https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa
- If this is the first time you’re filling out the FAFSA, click on the New to the FAFSA button. Remember and keep your login information safe. Use an email address that you can check often (avoid using a high school email address because access may be disabled)
- If this isn’t the first time you’re filling out the FAFSA, click on the Returning User Login button and enter your login information
- Start a 2023-2024 FAFSA Application
4. If You Don’t Need Parental Information Because of Your Living SItuation, Get a Determination from an Authorized Party
If you are an independent student because you are experiencing homelessness on your own, you will need a determination in order to apply for financial aid without your parent’s information. Please contact [INSERT NAME OF AUTHORIZED PARTY HERE] who can provide a determination.
*If you are an authorized party, include your email address so students can reach out to you directly for a determination. Authorized parties include school district McKinney-Vento liaisons or designee; director or a designee of a director of an emergency or transitional shelter, street outreach program, homeless youth drop-in center, or other program serving individuals who are experiencing homelessness; director or a designee of a director of a program funded under a TRIO or GEAR UP grant; or a financial aid administrator at the current institution or at another institution who previously made a determination.*
5. Lastly, If You’re Unsure About a Question, ASK!
It’s very important that the information you enter on the FAFSA is accurate, so it’s best to take it slow and ask for help. Feel free to contact me at [INSERT EMAIL/PHONE NUMBER].