Applying for financial aid can feel a bit daunting and overwhelming. This helpful how-to guide is meant to be used as a way to ease the burden of applying for federal financial aid!

  1. FSA ID:

Before completing the FAFSA itself, you will need to create a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID. This serves as your login as well as your electronic signature. The FSA ID can be created at

Your parents do not need to create their own FSA ID; however, they can access your application by entering in your name, social security number, and date of birth. 


At this point you can begin filling out the FAFSA® Application. Here you will use your newly- created FSA ID to login as a new user, and will be prompted to select the academic year you are applying for. 

  • The 2019-2020 FAFSA is used for the Fall 2019, Spring 2020 and Summer 2020 terms. For this FAFSA you will need 2017 income information. 
  • The 2020-2021 FAFSA is used for the Fall 2020, Spring 2021 and Summer 2021 terms. For this FAFSA you will need 2018 income information.

You will then be asked to create a Save Key

A Save Key is essentially your application password; it allows you and your parents to continue the application or make corrections after logging out. The Save Key must be 4-8 characters long and we highly recommend sharing it with your parents if they need to access your application.

From there, you will need to complete the School Selection portion of the application. 

By choosing a school, you are choosing where you would like your FAFSA application to be sent. Only after receiving your FAFSA application can a school create a unique financial package for you. But don’t stress – you can select multiple schools, add additional schools, or even delete schools you are no longer interested in. 

Now you will need to figure out your Dependency Status

All FAFSA applicants are considered either “independent” or “dependent.” Determining your status, and thus whose information you need to provide on your application, can be done by clicking this link

  • If you are considered an independent student you will not have to add your parents information to the FAFSA form. 
  • If you are considered a dependent student you will need to include your parent’s information, this will help determine your financial aid package. 

OK, now it’s time to get the IRS involved. 

Here is where you will need to enter in your financial information – and, if you were considered a dependent student, you will need your parents’ financial information too.

Assuming you and/or your parents filed your 2018 taxes, this step is a breeze.  You’ll merely link your FAFSA to the IRS data retrieval tool and the required information will auto-populate within the application. Just a heads up – for this to work, you will need the following information for both you and your parents:

  • First and last name
  • Social security number
  • Date of birth
  • Filing status
  • Address- which must match the address reported on the 2018 federal tax return

From here, you will Sign and Submit the application

After submitting the application, you will receive your Student Aid Report (SAR) via email. This can take between 3-5 business days. 

The schools you selected will also receive your SAR; they’ll use this information to determine your eligibility for financial aid, and will email you directly to outline the details of your financial aid package or to request additional information.

We hope this information helps! If you decide to join NWCS, this is something that our education coaches are more than equipped to assist you in!