Filling Out The FAFSA: Getting Your FSA ID

by Financial Design Studio, Inc. / September 30, 2022

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With the start of the 2023-2024 college application season coming up on October 1st, we’ve created a 2-part series called “Filling out the FAFSA” to guide you through the process. This post will help you understand what FAFSA is and why it’s important to fill it out. Specifically, this post is about getting an FSA ID for FAFSA.

What Is FAFSA?

As mentioned in our FAFSA FAQ #1 Video, FAFSA stands for “Free Application for Federal Student Aid.” By filling out the FAFSA, your child becomes eligible to receive Federal student aid in the form of loans, grants, work-study programs.

College is expensive these days, and these federal aid programs are designed to help families reduce the cost of attending college. Families that are in need can qualify for what’s called a GRANT, which is a form of financial aid the student doesn’t have to pay back (free money!).

Additionally, filling out the FAFSA opens the door to obtaining Federal student loans, which tend to be cheaper than private student loans and qualify for loan forgiveness programs. Obviously, you want to be careful having your child take out student loans, as they can become a crushing burden for them after they graduate. But these Federal loans can help bridge the gap between money saved up to pay for college and the ultimate cost of sending your child to college.

Who Should Fill Out The FAFSA?

In short, everyone. Many parents fall into the trap of assuming they earn too much money or have too many assets to qualify for any form of Federal student aid. That may end up being the case for you, but filling out the FAFSA is important nonetheless for a number of good reasons:

  • Many schools that issue merit-based awards require the applicant to have completed the FAFSA form;
  • Does your child need access to Federal student loans, or if you as the parent need access to Parent PLUS loans to help pay for college, you need to fill out the FAFSA;
  • If you encounter a job loss or sudden change of income, you can ask the school to reexamine your eligibility for financial aid – but only if you already have a completed FAFSA on file;
  • Some states offer their own financial aid and require students to fill out the FAFSA in order to get it;
  • If your child is eager to enter public service or become a teacher, then considering Federal student loans might be a good option as there are debt forgiveness programs for these professions.

In short, there are a lot of good reasons to fill out the FAFSA even if you think it unlikely that your student will receive any grants or merit-based scholarships.

Key FAFSA Dates to Remember

Before October 1: Get your FSA ID (Federal Student Aid ID) prior to filling out the FAFSA. An FSA ID is required if you want to fill out and sign the FAFSA online and make online changes later. We show you how below.

October 1: The first day that prospective students and parents can start filling out the FAFSA.

FAFSA Deadline: Depends on the schools your child is applying to. My suggestion would be to fill out the FAFSA early (in October or November) so you have it done and out of the way. You can always go back and revise data or school choices if needed.

Getting Your FSA ID

Before you can fill out the FAFSA online, you need to first obtain an FSA ID. While you can technically fill out the FAFSA online without an FSA ID, you would then have to print, sign and send the form manually. Save yourself the hassle by getting an FSA ID.

Who needs to get an FSA ID: the student, the parent, or both? Definitely, the student. For parents, it depends. If the student is a dependent of the parent(s), then one of the parents will have to get an FSA ID as well in order to sign off on the student’s FAFSA form. If the student is not a dependent, then the parent should only get an FSA ID if they intend to take out Parent PLUS loans to help their child pay for college.

What you’ll need: The student (and parent, if necessary) will need an email address, mailing address, and Social Security Number in order to get an FSA ID. It is also recommended to link your mobile phone number to this ID as well in case you have to reset passwords.

Below, I will you through screenshots of the entire FSA ID process so you know what to expect when you go to do it.

First, go to the FSA website at:

Step 1: Create Account and Enter Personal Information

 Get FSA ID Personal Information Screen

Step 2: Create Username and Password for FDS ID

FSA ID Create Username and Password Screen

Step 3: Enter Mailing Address And Mobile Phone Number

FSA ID Application Address and Phone Number Screen
TIP: On this screen, I would suggest you select YES when the site asks you if you’d like to enter your mobile phone number. If you ever forget your password, you’ll be glad you’re able to reset it via your mobile phone.

Step 4: Communication Preferences

FSA ID Application Communication Preferences

Step 5: Enter 4 Challenge Questions for Account Recovery

FSA ID Challenge Questions Screenshot

Step 6: Confirm & Verify All Information Entered

FSA Confirm & Verify Information Screenshot

Finally, you’ll be asked to verify your email and/or mobile number. Go ahead and do that and then hit FINISH.

You are now ready to fill out the FAFSA form when the application window opens on October 1.

Next Week: How to fill out 2023-2024 FAFSA Form

Next week, we will tackle filling out the FAFSA form. Quick preview: it’s not too painful. With the checklist I’ll provide, you and your student will be ready to get the FAFSA form filled out so they get to the fun part of filling out college applications!

Ready to take the next step?

Schedule a quick call with our financial advisors.

Recommended Reading

Wealth Management Financial Advisors in Chicago on college funding and the updated FAFSA

Podcast Episode 35: The College Funding Challenge

In this episode, parents and grandparents learn about college funding, reducing the cost and saving up with the updated FAFSA and 529 plans.

Experienced Fiduciary Fee-Only Financial Advisors in Lake Zurich Kildeer Deer Park Chicago

Podcast Episode 22: Should You Save For Your Kid’s College Education?

In this episode, we walk you through how we as advisors and as parents consider whether to save for college, and tools we might use.

Financial Design Studio, Inc.

We are financial advisors in Deer Park and Barrington, IL. A team with a passion for helping others design a path to financial success — whatever success means for you. Each of our unique insights fit together to create broad expertise, complete roadmaps, and creative solutions. We have seen the power of having a financial plan, and adjusting that plan to life. The result? Freedom from worrying about the future so you can enjoy today.