Skip to Content Bruce Rauner, Governor, State of Illinois

Getting Started

The 2018-19 FAFSA will be available on October 1, 2017. Students (and parents or spouses, as applicable) will report their 2016 income information on the 2018-19 FAFSA. A link to the FAFSA Changes for 2018–19 will be provided when it becomes available at the Federal Student Aid website.

First, an applicant will need to decide whether to file the 2018-19 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) electronically via FAFSA on the Web (FOTW), through the college or whether to complete a paper FAFSA. (English or Spanish).

Applicants filing electronically, should download and complete the FOTW Worksheet (English or Spanish). The worksheet gives applicants time to read and answer the questions before entering information online. The questions are listed in the same order as they appear on the website After completing the worksheet, an applicant can get assistance completing the FAFSA by clicking on the various links on the homepage, by reading the Introduction page that displays before FAFSA entry is started and by reading the Helps and Hints box that displays for each question. In addition, there is a "Needs Help" button at the bottom of each page. If the paper FAFSA is completed, instructions are included in the application booklet.

Applicants can refer to the Federal Student Aid website and click on the FAFSA: Apply for Aid tab to obtain detailed information about the application process and completing either FAFSA version. Links to obtain a paper FAFSA or to apply electronically at FAFSA on the Web are on this page. Applicants should complete the FAFSA (electronic or paper version) as soon after October 1st as possible, but no earlier than October 1, 2017. For the quickest results, encourage students to file a FAFSA online. Students and parents need to apply for an FSA ID, issued by ED, any time prior to the completion of the FAFSA. The FSA ID serves as an electronic signature to be used on the FAFSA. Visit the Federal Student Aid website to learn about and to create an FSA ID.

If the applicant does not sign the on-line application electronically with an FSA ID, the applicant and their parents, if applicable, will need to print out, sign and mail in a signature page with the proper signatures included within seven days. Applications that are missing an electronic signature will be held 14 days before a rejected Student Aid Report (SAR) is sent to the applicant for the appropriate signatures. Not submitting a signature page will increase the time it takes to process the FAFSA application and transmit the application data to the schools listed on the FAFSA.

The FAFSA asks for information about the applicant (your name, date of birth, address, etc.) and their financial situation. The following information and documents (applicant and spouse, if married, and parents of dependent students) may be needed to help answer questions on the FAFSA:

  • Social Security Number (SSN) (Be sure it is entered correctly on the FAFSA);
  • Parent’s Social Security Number if the student is dependent;
  • Driver’s license;
  • Alien Registration Receipt Card (if applicable);
  • Federal tax information or tax returns
    • W-2 Forms and other records of money earned
    • Income tax return or estimated figures (1040, 1040A or 1040EZ)
  • Records of other financial information;
    • Taxable earnings from need-based employment programs (Federal Work-Study or other need-based work programs)
    • Taxable student grant, scholarship, and fellowship aid, including AmeriCorps awards, that was included in the applicant’s, or parent’s, Adjusted Gross Income
    • Combat pay
    • Earnings from work under a cooperative education program offered by the college
  • Records of untaxable income;
    • Untaxed income including Social Security, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), welfare, and veterans benefits
    • Child support paid
    • Military housing, etc.
    • Veterans non education benefits
  • Information on cash, savings and checking balances including
    • Stock, bond, and other investment records
    • Business and farm records
    • Current bank statements.