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Mother and daughter, looking at a laptop as they discover how to file the FAFSA.

This Q&A article answers the questions discussed in a recent livestream video. Senior College Planning Specialist Jacquie Butler shares valuable insights and tips for completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Let’s dive in!

What is the FAFSA, and why is it important for students and families?

The FAFSA is your federal, state, and college-based financial aid application. Filing it early matters as some aid is first-come, first-served. Aim to complete it by January or early February to meet financial aid and scholarship deadlines.

What documents and information do families need to gather to complete the FAFSA?

Use our FAFSA Checklist for a complete list of items, but key documents and information needed include:

  • Your 2022 federal income tax return and corresponding schedules.
    • The value of your savings, checking, and investment accounts.
    • Child support received in 2023 for all children in your household.
    • The net worth of your business or farm.

How do families calculate the net worth of a business or farm?

You can use tax records or a balance sheet to determine the value of assets like buildings, land, equipment, inventory, livestock, and grains. Then, subtract any debt directly tied to your business or farming operation to calculate your net worth.

What can families expect when completing the FAFSA?

To get started, go to and log in using either the parent or student’s FSA ID. Both the parent and student will need to complete their sections of the FAFSA. You invite each other to complete your respective sections. The FAFSA is designed to be user-friendly, so it guides you through the process.

Is it better for the parent or the student to start the FAFSA?

It’s a bit easier if the parent starts their section first. This way, when they invite the student, the student can complete their section and see their estimated results on the confirmation page after signing and submitting. However, either approach works.

What questions can families expect on the FAFSA?

The FAFSA pre-fills some demographic information based on your FSA IDs. The parent and student will report their assets per the FAFSA checklist. Students should also list the colleges they want to receive their FAFSA results but must be accepted for admission to get financial aid from those colleges.

How do families sign the FAFSA?

Your FSA IDs serve as your electronic signatures. Log in with your FSA ID and grant consent for data to be reported. You’ll sign and submit the form at the end of your respective sections.

What happens after filing the FAFSA? What can families expect next?

After filing, you’ll receive a FAFSA Submission Summary that confirms your submission, displays your Student Aid Index, and indicates if verification is required. If verification is needed, the college will request specific documents from you. After that, you can expect financial aid offers from the colleges. We’ll discuss this more in our next livestream.

What resources or tools are available to help families navigate the FAFSA?

EducationQuest provides a FAFSA tools page with a FAFSA checklist and instructional videos. We also offer free assistance for completing the FAFSA. If you’d like our help, schedule an appointment at

Questions from viewers are summarized below:

What if my income is lower in 2023 than reported on the 2022 tax return?

If your income situation changes, you still need to complete the FAFSA using your 2022 tax information. After submitting, contact the college’s financial aid office to explain your situation. They may be able to adjust your FAFSA results.

In cases of divorce, which parent completes the FAFSA?

If parents are separated or divorced, the parent who provided the most financial support to the student in the past 12 months should report their information on the FAFSA. If they have remarried, they must also report the stepparent’s information.

In conclusion, the FAFSA is a critical step for students and families seeking financial aid for college. Proper preparation, accurate information, and timely submission are key to maximizing your financial aid offers. If you have questions, contact EducationQuest for free help and guidance.

By Jeannine Phelan