Many students and parents feel anxious about filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). In order to guide them through the application, you might wish to arrange for them to attend a workshop at which they can get help as they fill it out. You can either host the workshop yourself or find one for them to attend.
To ease students' fear of the FAFSA, have them fill out FAFSA4caster or the FAFSA on the Web Worksheet to get a feel for the types of questions they'll be asked when they submit the official application.
Host Your Own FAFSA Completion Workshop
Before you start planning your workshop, check out our information on hosting an event.
Generally, the way FAFSA completion workshops function is that students and parents turn up with their financial documents in hand, sit down at computers, and fill out the FAFSA. The host organization either has a speaker walk the entire group through the FAFSA question by question or has students go through it at their own pace as experts stand by to answer individual questions.
Think about the following as you organize and carry out your workshop:
- Hold the workshop during opening hours for the Federal Student Aid Information Center hotline in case you need to call with questions.
- Show our three-minute video, “How to Fill Out the FAFSA” (see below), at the beginning of the workshop to give an overview of the process.
- Provide handouts to answer frequently asked questions, explain what comes next in the process, or list Federal School Codes for colleges to which many of your students apply.
- Remind students to go to www.fafsa.gov to apply; that's the official, free FAFSA site.
- Use the FAFSA demo site on a large screen at the front of the room if you intend to walk through the application question by question with the whole group at once.
- If you want to have several FAFSA experts on hand to help answer individual questions, contact local college financial aid offices, your state's higher education department, TRIO programs, and/or the Federal Student Aid Outreach Team to see who might be available.
Tip: You can track your school's FAFSA completion rate.
Talking point: While the FAFSA determines an applicant's eligibility for federal student aid, it also is an application for funds from many schools and from the state.
How to Fill Out the FAFSA Video(Result Type: VIDEO)
Description: Learn about the steps for completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Also Available in: Spanish Captioned(Result Type: VIDEO)
Related: After the FAFSA: What Happens Next Video(Result Type: VIDEO), 2013-14 Completing the FAFSA(Result Type: PDF)
Am I Dependent or Independent?(Result Type: PDF)
Description: Worksheet to help students determine their dependency status when filling out the FAFSA.
Also Available in: Spanish(Result Type: PDF)
Related: FAFSA Dependency Status Graphic(Result Type: IMG), FAFSA: Determining Dependency Status Video(Result Type: VIDEO), Who Is My ''Parent'' When I Fill Out the FAFSA?(Result Type: PDF)
Who Is My ''Parent'' When I Fill Out the FAFSA?(Result Type: PDF)
Description: Fact sheet that helps answer common questions about determining which parent's information to report on the FAFSA.
Also Available in: Spanish(Result Type: PDF)
Related: Am I Dependent or Independent?(Result Type: PDF), How to Fill Out the FAFSA Video(Result Type: VIDEO), 2014-15 FAFSA on the Web Worksheet(Result Type: PDF)
Find Another Organization's FAFSA Completion Workshop
Don't have the resources or know-how to host your own FAFSA completion workshop? Tap into other FAFSA-related events in your area.
- College Goal Sunday is a FAFSA event that usually takes place in February or early March; the date varies by state or even by individual location.
- Local colleges, high schools, church groups, or college access organizations may host their own FAFSA events—keep an eye on sources of information about events in your area to find out when such workshops will take place.
- Find out whether someone from Federal Student Aid will be at a workshop near you by checking StudentAid.gov/events.
- Keep your local network strong; forge good relationships with staff at the public library, college financial aid offices, high schools, community centers, etc. When one organization wants to present a college-prep or FAFSA event, you can pool resources for better effectiveness.
- Some of your students and/or their parents may qualify for free help filling out tax returns.
Talking point: People whose income is too low to require them to file taxes should file a federal tax return anyway; they may be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit.