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If you applied for aid last year, you completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application determines your eligibility for aid for only one academic year. That means for each year you want to apply for aid, you will need to complete a Renewal FAFSA. Good news, though – the Renewal FAFSA is prefilled with some of your information from the previous year. Updating information is easier than completing the entire FAFSA renewal form from scratch and typically takes less than an hour.

Why you should complete the Renewal FAFSA

The FAFSA is the main source of data that the federal government, states and colleges use to award financial aid.

Any change – from income and family finances, marriage status or even the number of siblings going to college – can affect your eligibility for loans, grants, scholarships or need-based aid from your school. In addition, financial aid formulas often change, which can make it easier for you to qualify for awards to help pay for college. Finally, some types of financial aid don’t carry over from year to year. To reapply for that aid, you’ll need a completed Renewal FAFSA.

Eligibility and renewing your FAFSA

If you completed a FAFSA last year, you are eligible to renew FAFSA this year. To renew your FAFSA, log in with your Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID at FAFSA.ed.gov. Your FSA ID is a unique user name and password that allows you to identify yourself electronically and access the FSA website. Both the student and at least one parent of a dependent student will need FSA IDs. If you don’t have your FSA ID or have forgotten your user name or password, don’t worry! You can get help with that online.

  • Once you have logged into the FAFSA site, click the “FAFSA Renewal” button.
  • Review the pre-filled data, and make any necessary changes.
  • Provide answers to all other questions.
  • Save and review your Renewal FAFSA often. 

A special note to parents with two or more children in college: Complete the Renewal FAFSA for your oldest child first, then transfer a copy of the parental information to the FAFSAs of the younger children.

Submitting your Renewal FAFSA

Starting in the 2017-18 application, it is important to know that you can submit a Renewal FAFSA as early as October 1, 2016. It is always better to submit your FAFSA renewal as early as possible. To submit in October, you and your parents (if you are a dependent student) will report income from the earlier tax year. You will then need to update the income information on the Renewal FAFSA once your taxes are filed. You can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to transfer data about income from your federal income tax returns to the FAFSA.

To submit your Renewal FAFSA:

  • Sign the Renewal FAFSA with your FSA ID.
  • If you are a dependent student, your parent will also have to sign with their FSA ID.
  • Read the certification statement and click “Submit my FAFSA Now.”
  • After you submit the Renewal FAFSA, print a copy of the Confirmation Page.

You will receive an email within five days informing you that your Renewal FAFSA has been processed.

Help is available

If you have questions about the Renewal FAFSA, ask! Your school’s financial aid office can help answer questions about deadlines, the application process or financial aid eligibility. Or, call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800 433-3243) for answers to questions about filing the Renewal FAFSA.

It’s not difficult to fill out the FAFSA. But you do have to do it correctly. Learn how to avoid making five common FAFSA mistakes that can cost you money.

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