How to Fill Out the FAFSA
The first step in filling out the FAFSA is creating what’s known as a FSA ID. With
this ID, you can fill out the FAFSA, complete loan counseling, sign loan documents,
and apply for repayment plans. To create a FSA ID, you need your Social Security number and your own cell phone number and/or email
address. The U.S. Department of Education says you should keep your FSA ID private,
not even sharing it with your parents (they can get their own FSA ID if needed).
Before you start filling out the FAFSA, it’s best to gather information you may need:
- Your Social Security number and your parents’ Social Security numbers if you’re a
- Your driver’s license number if you have one.
- Your Alien Registration number if you’re not a U.S. citizen.
- Records of untaxed income, such as child support received, for you and for your parents
if you’re a dependent student.
- Information about bank accounts, investments, real estate other than your home, and
business and farm assets for you and for your parents if you’re a dependent student.
- OCC’s school code, which is 002303 for all campuses.
The FAFSA also requires information from your federal income tax return and from your
parents’ tax return if you’re a dependent student. But there’s a neat shortcut that
can save you lots of time and trouble. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool, which you access
through the online FAFSA, will automatically transfer all of your required tax information
into the form. To protect your privacy and security, when you transfer tax data to
the FAFSA you don’t see any numbers. Instead, in the appropriate fields it says “Transferred
from the IRS.”
It's easiest to fill out the FAFSA online, although you can download a PDF version if needed.
If Your Financial Situation Has Changed
Because of how it’s set up, the FAFSA may not accurately reflect your current financial
situation and need for financial aid. To ensure it gets verified income numbers, the
FAFSA requires you to enter data from two years earlier. For example, if you’re filling
out the form for the 2023-2024 school year, you enter income and tax numbers from
A lot may have happened to you in that two-year period. You or your parent may have
lost a job, a family medical crisis may have depleted savings, other large unexpected
expenses may have drained money set aside for school, and so forth.
If you’ve suffered a major financial setback, fill out the FAFSA with income numbers
for the year it requires and file the form. Then contact OCC’s Financial Aid office
to explain your situation. We may be able to increase your aid, although a boost isn’t
guaranteed. Having documentation increases your chances of qualifying for more financial
Get Help With the FAFSA
If you have questions about filling out the FAFSA, lots of free help is available:
What Happens Next?
What happens after you submit your FAFSA? Find out at How We Calculate Your Financial Aid.
And one last thing: You must renew your FAFSA every year that you’re in college. When
you do, the form will prefill with information from your previous FAFSA. You just
have to provide new income information and update anything that has changed.