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How to Apply - FAFSA Application (Prospective Undergraduates)

School Code 001139

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) is the first step toward getting financial aid for college.

Completing and submitting the FAFSA is free and quick, and it gives you access to the largest source of financial aid to pay for college (Federal Student Aid). In addition, your FAFSA is used to determine your eligibility for California State and CSULB aid, and some scholarship providers may use your FAFSA information to determine whether you qualify for their awards.

 

Gather Your Documents

The FAFSA asks for important personal identification information as well as financial information. You may be asked to provide identification and financial information for your parents as well.  You or your parents may be able to have your tax & income information imported directly from the IRS into your FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.

Details about filling out the application and tips on importing tax and income directly from the IRS to the FAFSA can be found on the Federal Student Aid site.

Get an FSA ID

For FAFSA Applicants, you’ll need an FSA ID, a username and password combination that allows you to sign your FAFSA electronically. If you are a dependent student you should also have your parent request an FSA ID.

You can get your FSA ID as you fill out the FAFSA, but getting an FSA ID before you begin the FAFSA could prevent processing delays, and it only takes a few minutes to apply. You can find out more information and apply for an FSA ID. 

Determine Your Dependency Status

All applicants for financial aid are considered either “independent” or “dependent.” Dependent students are required to include information about their parents on the application. By answering a few questions, you can get a good idea of which category you fit into. Visit Federal Student Aid’s page on Dependency Status for information on the difference between a dependent and an independent student, and to determine your dependency status for financial aid purposes.

Report Parent Information

If you’re a dependent student, you’ll need to report parent information on your FAFSA. Visit Federal Student Aid’s page on reporting parent information to find out who counts as your parent, what to do if you don’t live with your parents, and what to do if you don’t have access to your parents’ financial information. 

  • Your parents are incarcerated.
  • You have left home due to an abusive family environment.
  • You do not know where your parents are and are unable to contact them (and you have not been adopted).
  • You are older than 21 but not yet 24, are unaccompanied, and are either homeless or self-supporting and at risk of being homeless.
     

Special Circumstances: Unable to provide parent information

In situations such as the ones below, you may be able to submit your application without parent information despite being considered a dependent student:

  • Your parents are incarcerated.
  • You have left home due to an abusive family environment.
  • You do not know where your parents are and are unable to contact them (and you have not been adopted).
  • You are older than 21 but not yet 24, are unaccompanied, and are either homeless or self-supporting and at risk of being homeless.
     

The online application will ask you whether you are able to provide information about your parents. If you are not, you will have the option to indicate that you have special circumstances that make you unable to get your parents’ information. The site then allows you to submit your application without entering data about your parents.

Once you’ve submitted your FAFSA, you will need to reach out to our office to discuss your options – and whether or not a Dependency Override Appeal is an option.  Be sure to gather as much information and supporting documentation about your situation as you can (legal documents; letters from a school counselor, a social worker, or clergy member; any other relevant information that helps document your special circumstance).

After the FAFSA: What's Next?

Completing the FAFSA is not the last step; your FAFSA has to be processed, and then you get an Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which CSULB uses to figure out how much aid you can get. Find out more about what happens after you fill out the FAFSA, how to review your Student Aid Report and how to correct any errors.