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FAFSA Walkthrough Video Transcript

Before you start on the FAFSA it's important to create your FSA ID. This is your username and password for all things FAFSA so of course as the student you're going to need an FSA ID to log into the FAFSA and to digitally sign it at the end. If you have to provide parent information on your FAFSA and we'll go over in a minute kind of who needs to provide parental information. One of your parents is also going to need to create their own FSA ID. The reason that we need a parent FSA ID is really two reasons, one if you want to use the IRS Data Retrieval tool that allows you to import your tax information directly from the IRS you're going to need an FSA ID to do that and then at the end of the FAFSA when it asks for a parent signature that's also where we'll need the parent FSA ID. Now it's important to note that you do need a valid social security number in order to create an FSA ID so if your parent does not have a social security number you can go ahead and skip the parent FSA ID creation. The way that you create your FSA ID is to visit

You'll want to scroll to the bottom and create an FSA ID here. If you've already created your account and you just need to let's say retrieve your username or reset your password you can choose manage my FSA ID instead and if you need help with your FSA ID you can always call the Department of Education's office of federal student aid hotline at 800-433-3243.

Now without further ado let's take a look at what the 2021-2022 FAFSA looks like.

So first up we'll want to visit and we'll click start here.

Now as the student what you'll want to do is you'll want to say I am the student and then log in using the FSA ID username and password that i just mentioned. For the sake of today's demonstration though since we're going to be doing a fake FAFSA I'm going to choose this option. I'm going to say I'm a parent preparer or student from a freely associated state and I'm going to start by entering the student's name date of birth and social.

All right, so once you click next it's going to say welcome Sally, I'm Sally Student in this scenario and it says to review the information carefully because your social security number and birth date are it's very important that these are accurate on your FAFSA. Next you'll see the statement of educational intent so this is essentially an acknowledgement that you are applying for federal student aid to use for your education only so in this case that is true I'm going to hit accept and this kind of gets a little bit confusing. For students there's actually two FAFSA cycles open at the same time so if you are planning to attend college in the fall of 2021 or the spring of 2022 you want to choose 21 22 FAFSA which is the video that we're going to be covering today. If you're attending college in the fall of 2020 or the spring of 2021 you want to choose this FAFSA instead. The 2021 FAFSA, summer semesters vary from college to college so it's important to just ask your college or university which FAFSA you should complete if you're going to be attending summer semester. A save key saves the progress of your application in case maybe your browser window accidentally closes or your computer shuts down unexpectedly and it's not very sensitive. It's between, I believe, four and eight digits so I'm just going to make mine one, two, three, four for right now.

If you forget it you can reset it using your zip code.

You'll see a series of frequently asked questions which we're going to skip over because hopefully I'll be able to answer all of those for you in this video and now we start in student demographics. As you proceed through all of these sections of the FAFSA, if you're ever confused about if it's asking about students or parent information just pay attention to this banner up here it'll say if it's referencing the student or the parent. So in this case I've already entered my name social security number and birth date so I'm going to hit next.

My email address...

and then I want to enter my telephone number. If you started the FAFSA by logging in with your FSA ID this will actually already be completed for you.

Next you want to enter your permanent mailing address...

and it will ask if you've lived in your state for at least five years. In this case I'll say yes. If you say no then it will ask what is your state of legal residence. In this case if I say Utah, it's going to ask if I became a legal resident of Utah before January 1st 2016. In this case I'm going to go back and I'm just going to say yes I have lived here for five years. Next it's going to ask for my citizenship status so I can say yes I'm a U.S. citizen. The second option says no but I am an eligible non-citizen. An eligible non-citizen is somebody who has both a social security number and an alien registration number which you can find on the back of a green card or permanent resident card so oftentimes this will be somebody who, for example, is a refugee who's living in the U.S. If you are not a U.S. citizen and you're not an eligible non-citizen you would say no I am neither. In this case I'm going to say yes I'm a U.S. citizen. High school completion status when I start the 2021 school year. I'm going to pretend that Sally Student is a high school senior right now so I'm going to say by the beginning of next school year she'll have her high school diploma and what college or degree or certificate will you be working on when you begin next school year? If this is your first time going to college it's important to answer this correctly. So you could say, you know, I'm going after a technical certificate or I'm doing a two-year associate's degree or my first bachelor's degree. Keep in mind that people who are going after their second bachelor's degree or something like a master's or professional degree like you see here those folks do not qualify for things like the federal Pell Grant. You only get federal Pell Grants for your first bachelor's degree and below, so if you're a high school senior just list the first degree you're going to be going after so I'll say first bachelor's degree.

Will I have my first bachelor's degree by the time I begin next school year? The answer there is going to be no and then what will my college grade level be when I begin the 2021-2022 school year. Again, if I'm pretending that Sally Student is a senior in high school at this very moment she's going to say never attended college first year even if she took things like concurrent enrollment or advanced placement classes and she has some college credits to her name or on her transcript. What the FAFSA is really wondering here is have you applied for or received federal financial aid for your college education before and if Sally's student is a high school senior? The answer there is going to be no of course so I'm going to say never attend a college first year, but you can select the year that's appropriate for your particular situation. And work study, these are part-time jobs typically on your college campus that offer a flexible work schedule. They have great financial aid benefits if you're interested at all in working at least part time during college. I would say yes to this question here so that you can at least be considered for the pool of applicants for work-study jobs at your college or university. Not all colleges participate in work-study so if you are wondering if your college participates check with your financial aid office.

When the FAFSA asks are you male or female it's referring to the sex assigned at birth. In this case Sally's a female so I'm going to choose female but you know if I was filling this fafsa out for somebody who was assigned male I would say male and the reason it's asking about gender or sex is because it is a requirement for males 18 to 26 to register with the Selective Service system in order to receive federal financial aid so in this case it will ask are you already registered with Selective Service you can say yes or you can say no and if you say no the FAFSA will ask if you want to register for the Selective Service using this form. In this case again I've got Sally Student and she was you know assigned female, identifies as female. I'm going to put female. Driver's license is actually one of the few questions that you can skip on the FAFSA so if you don't have a driver's license you don't have to put anything in here.

The FAFSA will ask if I was a foster youth or if at any time in my life i was in the foster care system? There's going to be a follow-up question about this later on as well that we'll talk about in some detail so I'm going to put no. It's also going to ask the highest education level that parents completed so I'm going to say Sally's parents both completed high school and click next.

All right, we've finished the student demographic section and now we're on to our school selection so the first question is what high school do you attend? I'm going to pick one in Utah...

and it came up with a couple of options but this is the one I need. Okay and once all that information looks correct I'm going to click next. Now I can add up to 10 colleges and universities that I'm considering and each of those colleges will get a copy of my FAFSA so you can ignore this part about do you know your federal school code for your college. Nobody knows those. Nobody has them memorized. What you want to do instead is actually look up your school and its school code so you do have to put...let's see, the state that it's in and then these two fields are optional so if I were to click search it would show me all the colleges in Utah. So I'm going to start narrowing it down. I'm going to add let's say Westminster College.

Alright it found it so I'm going to click this. Now if I really only want to add one school I'm going to hit next but if I want to add more than one I can choose add more schools. So just for the sake of showing you what it looks like I'm going to add two.

I'm going to add a technical college.

Okay, so those are the two colleges that I want to add. The next question the FAFSA will ask is what is my housing plan for each of those colleges? This doesn't really affect how much federal money you can get from the FAFSA but the reason this is important is the college needs to know what your housing plan is going to be because that affects your cost of attendance. So for example if I'm living in the dorms of course I'm paying more to go to college than somebody who's living at home and so there could be some sort of institutional money my college could offer like a housing scholarship or a housing stipend so it's important to answer this to the best of your ability. If you don't know yet you can always just you know give it your best guess and then change this later if needed.

So let's say if i go to Westminster I want to live on campus in the dorms and if I go to Davis Technical College I'm going to be living with my parents. Easy enough. So school selection is done and now we're moving on to dependency status which is the section of the FAFSA that's going to determine whether or not I need to provide my parents information. So the first question, am I married? Is the student married? I'm going to say Sally Student is not married she's single.

Will Sally have children who receive more than half of their financial support from her between July 1st 2021 and June 30th 2022? So essentially if Sally has a baby of her own, a child of her own that she's providing more than half the financial support for or this question right here if she has other dependents besides just her own children who she's providing 50% of the financial support for. So if she's financially caring for a younger sibling for example. In this case I'm going to say no she doesn't have anyone who's relying on her financially.

If you are on active duty in the military or if you are a veteran of the US military you do not have to provide parental information. In this case Sally can't check yes to either of those and then I mentioned that there would be a more in-depth question about foster care and here it is. At any time since you turned 13 were both of your parents deceased were you in foster care or were you a dependent or ward of the court? So let's say you were in foster care at age 15, even if it was just for a few weeks and you're back with your parents now you still want to answer yes or you want to check this box. However, if you were in foster care before turning let's say you know you spent your kindergarten year in foster care and then you've been out of the foster care system ever since, you can't check this box since it happened before the age of 13. Next it asks if the court in my legal state of residence has determined that i am an emancipated minor? Am I legally emancipated from my parents? In this case I'm going to say no and then this part is a little bit counter-intuitive but if someone other than your parent or step parent has legal guardianship of you and by legal guardianship we mean that it's court appointed there's court documentation to back this up if you have a legal guardian. You actually don't provide the guardian's information on the FAFSA so if somebody other than your parent or step parent has legal guardianship of you you're considered independent. In this case Sally can't answer yes to any of these so I'm going to say none of the above. The very last question it will ask to determine if it needs parental information from me is on or after July 1st of 2020 were you homeless or were you self-supporting and at risk of being homeless? And the definition here is very broad. It just says if you're lacking fixed adequate and regular nighttime residents in the higher education act. So you know if you're even, even if you fit the definition of what we would consider couch surfing so to speak, right where you might be physically staying with somebody right now but it's a precarious situation or it could change at any moment then you could feasibly answer yes to this question. What you will likely need is a letter of support from, for example, the homeless liaison at your school or school district or work with your college to see what other documentation they will accept to kind of prove that this situation is true. In the case of Sally Student I'm going to say no.

Okay, so it has determined based on my answers that I do need to provide parental information so in this case I'm going to show you just moving forward what it looks like to provide parent information on the fafsa, however if you've answered no to all of those dependency questions but you're still truly incapable of getting your parents information, for example, maybe you know you don't have contact with them anymore and you're living with your aunt and uncle but they don't have legal guardianship of you, that might be something where you can appeal with your college or university. So if you are in a kind of a special circumstance like that what you can say is I'm unable to provide parental information.

It the FAFSA will explain that in these situations you're really only going to qualify for unsubsidized federal student loans not Pell grants not work study but if you click next it will kind of explain what different special circumstances may look like and you can say i have a special circumstance and I'm unable to provide information about my parents. At that point it is your responsibility to follow up with the college financial aid office to discuss your specific situation and see if they can essentially override you into being independent. In this case like I said for the sake of demonstration I'm actually gonna say I will provide parental information. Okay so we've moved on to the parent demographic portion of the FAFSA so as of today what is the marital status of your parents? So literally as of the moment you're filling out the FAFSA your options are they were never married, they are not married but they are living together, they're married or remarried, divorced or separated or widowed. So in this case we're looking at the biological or adopted parents if your parents are married as of today pretty straightforward we're going to put married let's say your parents are divorced or separated as of today. In that case we need to figure out who is the fafsa parent. The FAFSA requires you to report the parent that you have lived with more over the course of the last 12 months. It cares more about the living situation. If your situation is completely 50/50 you know, I'm splitting my time evenly between parent one and parent two then you go with the parent who provides you more financial support.

But again, that's a secondary thing. The first thing that you want to look at is which parent do you live with, that's the parent that you want to report on the FAFSA or that you're required to report on the FAFSA if that person is still divorced or separated, they're you know single today then you would keep this answer and you would tell us when the divorce or separation happened just the month in the year, however, if your FAFSA parent has remarried you need to put remarried. List the month and year when they got married to their current spouse and then you have to list both the parent and the step parents information. So to kind of reiterate let's pretend Sally Student's parents are divorced. Let's say she lives with dad a hundred percent of the time and dad has remarried. In that case I'm going to provide information for dad and stepmom in that case so I'm actually gonna say just married or remarried. At this point I'm gonna say you know the situation is not one of divorce and sally's household and then what month and year did her parents originally get married. So I'll put in an answer here.

Now it's going to ask the demographic information for the parents meaning their social security, last name, first initial, date of birth, and email address and it's gonna ask for parent one and parent two. Now it doesn't matter who's parent one and who's parent two. You get to pick but you do need to be consistent throughout your application and make sure that person is always you know if you chose them as parent one make sure they're listed as parent one consistently throughout the FAFSA. Okay so i completed information for parent one and now it wants parent two.

Just like it asked me if I've lived in Utah for five years as the student it's going to ask the same question of the parents.

Now we move on to household size. So when the FAFSA is calculating your financial need it's taking into account more than just your income it's also taking into account how far does that money really go. Right, like how many people are relying on your parents? How many of those people in your household are in college? Because all of those things impact your ability to pay for school. So I can't change these answers because it's going off of the information I already put into the FAFSA. But next up I'm going to report my parents other children even if they're not physically living with us as long as my parents are providing more than half their financial support between July 31st 2021 and June 30th of 2022 or if those children could answer no to all those dependency questions that we did earlier. So are you married? Are you in the military? Were you in foster care? If you think back to in this case you know a younger sibling. Let's say I've got a you know Sally's got a sixth grade sibling who's living at home. Of course that person's going to be a member of the household. If she has let's say an older brother who's maybe 22. Um, in that case if he answered no to all of his dependency questions on the FAFSA we can also count him in the house even if he's like living in the dorms for example and not living physically with mom and dad. I'm gonna say sally's got two siblings then.

We can also count other people in the household as long as they now live with their the parents. If that living situation is going to persist through the school year and then if my parents provide more than half of their financial support. So for example, if grandma and grandpa are living at home and mom and dad take care of them, they provide all the financial support for them, i would count grandma and grandpa as members of our household. So that's an example you run into a lot. In this case I'm going to say no nobody else is in the household. So it's a household of five and then how many of my parents household are going to be in college during the 2021-2022 school year? In that scenario Ii just painted we've got Sally. Of course she's applying for federal financial aid right here and so we know she's going to be in college but then we said she had an older brother. If you'll remember so I'm going to say two are in college.

All right, everyone's favorite part, the parent financials! So for the 2019 tax year, again the 2021-2022 FAFSA uses 2019 tax information and so if your your financial situation has changed drastically since 2019 which very well could be the case especially with the COVID pandemic; you still need to report only 2019 tax information, but then you can follow up with your college or university to discuss your situation in more detail and kind of appeal your financial aid package. They'll ask for some proof that your financial situation has changed but you can work with them to see what kind of documentation they'll accept. In this case it's going to ask if I already completed or my parents excuse me already completed the 2019 tax return and you've got three options. You can say I've already completed which is going to be most people, if you received an extension from the IRS you can say I will file, or you can say I'm not going to file. If you don't file a federal income tax return and you don't have to start filing a federal income tax return until you make a certain dollar amount. If you're curious about those dollar amounts you can look up IRS publication I-7 that's 1-7, and it will show you the dollar amount at which you have to start filing a federal income tax return. In this case just so I can show you what the tax portion looks like I'm gonna say already completed. What type of income tax return did you do? Most people will say IRS 1040 however if your parents filed a foreign tax return you can put if they filed a foreign tax return here or a tax return in Puerto Rico or another U.S. territory. Tax filing statuses for 2019. These are the little boxes at the top of your 1040 form. So you have the option to file a single, head of household, married joint, married separate, qualifying widower, or don't know. In this case most married couples will have filed a married joint return but you can always double check and you should double check the boxes at the top of your 1040 to see what the tax filing status was. Now at the very beginning of this video I mentioned that there's a tool that allows you to import your tax information directly from the IRS.

It's called the IRS Data Retrieval Tool or DRT and if you want to use it which we encourage because it saves you time effort and it potentially saves you from having to provide additional information to your college. You click link to IRS. You have to say which parent is trying this so whichever parent made their own FSA ID you want to pick them and they'll need to enter their username and password. Now because this is a fake FAFSA I'm not actually going to be able to show you what this looks like because there's no tax return to pull up but if you choose to use this what you'll see is once you successfully enter your FSA ID username and password you'll be kicked over to the IRS website. You'll have to validate your identity by typing in your address exactly as it appears on your 1040 and it is very very picky so if you said I live on 300 west and your tax return said 300 W that's going to actually reject it. It's going to create a problem so again you want to have your taxes in front of you and you want to type it out exactly as it appears on your tax return and then once you come back to the fafsa after you have successfully used the data retrieval tool you also won't see any of the dollar amounts that came over it's just going to say in the fields transferred from IRS in big bold font and you're not going to be able to change that. That's a for your security just in case somebody's fraudulently doing the fafsa on your behalf they're not going to be able to see information about your income but it's also so that you don't change that information right if it came over from the IRS. They know it's accurate. They don't want people changing that. So again I'm going to skip this since we don't actually have a tax return to bring over and I'll show you how to fill out the tax portion of the FAFSA by hand. First question is your parents adjusted gross income for 2019. On your 1040 this is line 8 b. So you know in this fake scenario I'm going to say the adjusted gross income was $75,000.

Even if you used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool it's still going to ask you to type out what parent one made from working versus what parent two made from working. This can seem kind of frustrating if you've used the data retrieval tool, it can kind of feel like oh it should have come over already but if you ever look at a married joint tax return it actually doesn't really clearly delineate what the two separate breadwinners made from working and so the reason the FAFSA cares is it gives a bigger income protection allowance every year that you get closer to 65 and so it needs to know essentially what the separate parents made from working. So it knows how much of an income protection to give that person. In this case I'm gonna make it easy math I'm gonna say out of that seventy five thousand dollars parent one made fifty, parent two made twenty five. It's important to follow the equation that's listed on screen. So we want to look at IRS form 1040, the very first line of our tax return. If you have a Schedule 1 and not everyone does so if it's not stapled to your tax return you likely don't have it but if you do have a Schedule 1 if there's anything on lines six and three you want to add that into the equation and then if you have a Schedule K1 which again you might not you'll take box 14 code A. So we're going to add all those figures together to figure out what parent one made from working and what parent two made from working. If your parents are if they're not self-employed if they're getting a w-2 from an employer that can also be an effective way of figuring out what parent one made from working. It's going to be the wages tips and salary box of the w-2 versus what parent two made.

Next we're going to enter the amount of our parents income tax for 2019. Again read this very very carefully because we're only looking for 1040 line 14 and then if you have a Schedule 2, again you might not have a Schedule 2, if there's anything inside of line two we're going to subtract that from the 1040 line 14. If you don't have a Schedule 2 we're just going to pay attention to 1040 line 14. I'm gonna say zero. Next up if your parents received combat pay. So if they're in the military we'll put that here. If your parents are in college and they received student college grants and scholarship aid reported to the IRS they're going to put that here. If your parents claimed education credits on their taxes so these are things like the American Opportunity Tax Credit or the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit, they'll have a Schedule 3 attached to their tax return and we're gonna look at line three again. If there's no Schedule 3 attached to your tax return you can skip that part. Next up untaxed portions of IRA distributions and pensions. We're going to look at your tax return 1040. Lines 4a and 4c and then if you have lines 4b and 4d we're going to subtract those from lines 4a and 4c. Again if box 4 lines on your tax return are blank that's going to be a 0 here. Next up are things like IRA deductions which we're going to look at the tax return Schedule 1 again. You might not have a Schedule 1 but if you do, if there's anything on line 15 and 19 we want to report it here. Finally tax exempt interest from income from the IRS. Again this is on your tax return. If there's anything in line or box 2a type it here. If not you can type 0. If there's a negative number you can type 0 and that's true for any field on the FAFSA here and if you ever get stuck on any of these questions or you need more detail about what it's asking one trick that you can use is to click these little blue question mark icons and it will come up with additional details to help you figure out exactly what it's going. After it'll even give you a handy little screenshot of what you're looking for. Next up are things that we cannot find on the tax return. This is just information your parents will either have or not have. You know they'll know if this situation applies to them. So first up if your parents paid child support they're going to put the amount that they paid over the course of 2019 here. If your parents are in college and they had a work study job they're going to put their work study earnings in this box and then if they're in college and they had need-based employment income through a college or university so if your parents are in college and they're earning this you would put this here.

Next up if your parents are receiving child support you're going to put the total amount they received in 2019 in this first box. If they're receiving housing food or other living expenses as a member of the military or as a member of the clergy of a church they're gonna put that here. Payments to tax deferred pension and retirement savings plans is a little bit of a tricky question because the only place where you can find this is on the w-2 so if you're having a hard time locating your parents w-2 save the FAFSA and come back to it later. You don't want to guess here. A lot of people don't think they have this and they do so again on your w2 we're looking at boxes 12 and there are certain codes that you can ignore so if there's a value in there but it's coded as double D for example you're not going to report it but if it's coded as D, E, F, G, H, or S those values do count and you want to report them here. If your parents are receiving veterans non-education benefits like disability death dependency and indemnity compensation this is related again to their service in the military you would want to put that here. And then if you have other untaxed income not reported such as workers compensation or disability benefits. One tricky thing here, if you click on the blue question mark it specifies that we do not want to include social security on tax benefits. So things like SSI or social security disability that's untaxed. Do not report that in this box. Next the FAFSA will ask about your parents assets and this dollar amount that you see on screen that's going to change depending on how much money you've reported your parents make so it could be more. It could be less or if the income is low enough it might just say do you want to skip questions about your assets which is okay. You should skip if it's letting you do so for the sake of showing you what an asset is. I'm going to say yes just so you see what boxes appear. So things that do count as assets would be checking savings and cash.

If your parents own real estate outside of their home or if they have investments outside of their retirement or 401k individual retirement account. So for example if they have stocks and bonds like in a mutual fund you would want to report those here. If your parents own a 529 account for you or one of your siblings they do need to report that as an investment. And as of today you would want to report the net worth of your parents current business or farm only if that business or farm has more than 100 full-time employees. If it has fewer than 100 full-time employees the value of your business does not count as an asset. So to kind of recap that or to rephrase it the things that do not count as assets here would be the home that you live in, the cars that you drive, your retirement account, or if you have a business or farm with fewer than 100 employees. Those things do not count as assets on the FAFSA.

Okay this part tends to confuse people. They say I just did this why is it asking it all over again but again we're paying attention to this banner right here it has switched over from asking about parents to asking about the student. Again so we're going back to Sally Students information here. So did the student file taxes in 2019? If you did we're gonna follow you know basically the same steps that I just went over for parents, however you know most if you're in high school for example most high schoolers are not going to be filing a federal income tax return so I'm going to say Sally did not file and she's not going to.

It's still going to ask about income and assets. In this case you know even if you made a couple hundred bucks that's okay that's not enough to require you to file a federal income tax return. Again you can look up IRS publication 1-7 if you're interested in finding out how much money you would have had to earn in 2019 in order to start filing a federal income tax by tax return by law. In this case I'm going to say you know maybe Sally was mowing lawns in the summer and she made 500 that year.

I won't go over these in too much detail because we just covered them in the parent section. I'm going to say Sally's got none of these expenses or benefits.

None of those apply to her as a student.

And then her assets. If you have a checking savings account put the balance as of today. Let's say Sally has 50 in there um she doesn't own any investments or real estate and she doesn't own her own business.

When the FAFSA asks if you're a preparer this is if you're paying a professional to do the FAFSA for you. They've got to fill out a separate page. In this case I mean we're going to put no we're just filling the FAFSA out for ourselves.

It's going to give you all the information you provided back in a nice neat clean form so you can kind of read through make sure everything is accurate. As long as it looks good we're going to go to the bottom and we're going to click next.

This is where I need to provide both the student signature and the signature of one parent. Now I mentioned if your parent is undocumented, meaning they don't have a social security number, they're not going to be able to create an FSA ID.

What you do in that circumstance when you go to provide parent signature, it's going to ask again that statement of educational intent. I understand you know we're applying for this for my students education. Be sure to read through it and then okay. Here we go if you don't have an FSA ID as a parent, if you can't make one, we want to choose other options to sign and submit print a signature page.

I'm going to do the same thing for the student just to show you what it looks like.

Okay and then we'll get the option to print the signature page. So this is what a signature page looks like. You'll print it out you'll physically sign and date it and then you'll want to mail it to this address at the bottom here.

Now again because this is a fake FAFSA and i don't actually have the ability to sign or print in this situation. I'm going to have to stop here but what you'll see when you've completed and you've digitally signed your FAFSA, there's going to be an option right here that says submit. You might want to make sure to click that in order to submit your FAFSA to the Department of Education for processing. That is it once you hit submit you will get a confirmation on screen. They'll also email a confirmation to the email address you put on file when you started the FAFSA.

Thank you.

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