The FAFSA in 7 Easy Steps
For Maryland residents to be considered for state financial aid programs, the FAFSA must be completed prior to March 1st EVERY year. We also encourage you to submit your FAFSA as soon as it becomes available – October 1st of each year.
Create Your Account
Visit studentaid.gov or download the myStudentAid mobile app available through iTunes or GooglePlay to setup your account.
Enter Your Information (Student)
Begin filling in the required information about you (the student). Keep in mind, even if your parents or a preparer are helping you submit the FAFSA, the application belongs to you - the student. Any references to 'you' or 'your' pertain to the student.
Select Your Schools
Using the Web or mobile app, the FAFSA allows you to create a list and select up to 10 colleges to send your FAFSA application to. We encourage you to list all the schools you are interested in, even if you have yet to apply! Your school list will not be shared among schools.
Select Your Dependency Status
This classification is used to determine whether you are considered a dependent or independent student. This is also used to calculate the amount of financial aid you are eligible for.
Uncertain as to whether you are a dependent or independent student, visit Determining your dependency status
Enter Your Parent(s) Information
If you are a dependent, you will need to report parent information on the FAFSA. For the FAFSA, “PARENT” means your legal (biological or adoptive) parent or stepparent, or a person that the state has determined to be your legal parent.
The following people are not considered your parents unless they have legally adopted you:
- Widowed stepparent
- Foster parents
- Legal guardians
- Older brothers or sisters
- Aunts of uncles
If you’re not sure whom to report as a parent, go to studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa/filling-out/parent-info
Use the guide below to figure out which parent’s information to include (depending on your situation)
Enter Financial Information (Student and Parent)
You and/or your parent will enter information based on 2018 tax filing(s) / 2018 W-2 Forms for completing the 2020-2021 FAFSA.
FAFSA Tax Information Year Attending 20/21 FAFSA 2018 Fall 2020 Spring 2021 21/22 FAFSA 2019 Fall 2021 Spring 2022 22/23 FAFSA 2020 Fall 2022 Spring 2023 23/24 FAFSA 2021 Fall 2023 Spring 2024
Submit and Sign the FAFSA
Follow the steps below to sign and submit your FAFSA using the web or mobile app:
- Review your FAFSA Summary. If you see any mistakes here, this is your opportunity to correct them.
- If you’re filing the FAFSA online, it helps to create an FSA ID ahead of time so you can electronically sign your FAFSA (this is the fastest and easiest way).
What is an FSA ID and why do I need one?
(Hint: you will need one to apply for financial aid!)
Create your FSA ID by following these steps:
Visit https://studentaid.gov/fsa-id/sign-in/landing to begin.
- Verify that you are at least 13 years old.
- Create a unique username and password, and provide your email address. Remember that the FSA ID is an electronic signature used for applying and signing for financial aid and other legal documents – select your username and password accordingly.
- Provide all required personal information, such as your name, social security number, date of birth, and contact information, including answers to your selected challenge questions.
- Review your information carefully. Read and accept the terms and conditions.
- Verify your email address that was used to create your FSA ID. You will receive a new message containing a security code in order to proceed. You may need to add firstname.lastname@example.org to your address book so that emails will be delivered to your inbox. At this point, you will have the option to use your email address instead of your username to access other U.S. Department of Education online sources (fafsa.gov, studentloans.gov and the myStudentAid mobile app). If you change your email address, you will also need to re-verify the address.
The FSA ID may be used to submit your FAFSA immediately. There may be a delay of a few days before this can be used to login to the other U.S. Department of Education websites.
- You must create your FSA ID yourself. Your FSA ID is used to file the FAFSA, apply for financial aid programs, and sign loan promissory notes.
- You are not authorized to create an FSA ID on behalf of someone else, including a family member.
- Keep your FSA ID in a safe and secure place. Do not share your FSA ID with anyone, including your family.
- An email address may only be associated with ONE SINGLE social security number. Therefore, you will need to provide an email address for both you and your parent(s).