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How to Apply - FAFSA (Current Credential Students)

School Code 001139

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

You must apply for financial aid (including loans, grants, and Federal Work Study employment), each year.   Your FAFSA is used to determine your eligibility for Federal, California State and CSULB aid, and some scholarship providers may use your FAFSA information to determine whether you qualify for their awards.

When you fill out a FAFSA, you are applying for aid for a specific year. In order to receive aid the next year, you’ll need to submit that next year’s FAFSA. If you completed a FAFSA this past year, the FAFSA website makes it easy for you by allowing you to submit a Renewal FAFSA that remembers certain information you reported the year before and places it in your new FAFSA.

Submit or renew your FAFSA  between October 1 and March 2 for the following academic year. Be sure to file before the priority filing deadline (March 2nd) in order to be considered for the maximum types of aid.

Applications submitted after March 2nd will be considered for Federal Pell Grants and Federal Direct Loans – but will not be eligible for CA State or CSULB Institutional Grants.


Eligibility for FAFSA & Federal Student Aid

Students in the Credential Program are considered 5th year undergraduate students for Financial Aid purposes. Students who already possess an initial Teacher Credential, and are now working on an additional credential, are only eligible for federal loan funds (at the 5th year undergrad level) or for private education loans.

In order to be eligible for funding through the FAFSA Application, you must to meet the eligibility criteria for Federal Student Aid:

In addition to citizenship status, you must meet the other general eligibility criteria for federal student aid.  Review the information from Federal Student Aid for details.

PLEASE NOTE: Students who received a Social Security Number through the Deferred Action of Childhood Arrival (DACA), and who qualify for AB540, should complete the California Dream Act Application in order to be considered for CSULB and California State financial aid, as they are NOT Eligible for Federal Student Aid.

Gathering 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 (if you are determined to be “dependent for financial aid purposes.”  Details about the type of information, and documents needed to complete the application are available from Federal Student Aid.

Don’t forget that if you have a current FAFSA on file, using the Renewal FAFSA makes it easier to re-apply each year; certain information you reported the year before will be placed in your new application.  Tax and income information will not be carried into your new application, so be prepared to provide that information when you complete the Renewal FAFSA. 

  • You or your parents may be able to have your tax & income information imported directly from the IRS into your FAFSA using the FAFSA’s IRS Data Retrieval Tool. 

If you are eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, we highly recommend doing so for the following reasons:

  • It’s the easiest way to provide your tax data.
  • It’s the best way of ensuring that your FAFSA has accurate tax information.
  • If your FAFSA is selected for verification, it will be unnecessary for you to provide federal IRS Tax Transcripts
  • You will save time and avoid waiting for documents and processing

Learn more about providing financial information from Federal Student Aid.

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. You’ll need your FSA ID to sign your FAFSA electronically.

  • If it’s your first time completing the FAFSA, you will need to create an FSA ID before completing your FAFSA. Find out more information and apply for an FSA ID
  • If you have completed a FAFSA previously, you will use the same FSA ID each year 

If you are a dependent student, your parent will need to use / request their own FSA ID.

Correct Responses to FAFSA Questions for Credential Students

Credential students are considered 5th year undergraduates for financial aid purposes.

To ensure all needed information is provided on the application, and to avoid delays in the processing of your financial aid file, please answer the following questions on the FAFSA Application as indicated below:

  • Question: What will your college grade level be when you begin the school year?
    • Select response: 5th year/other undergraduate
  • Question: What degree or certificate will you be working on when you begin the school year?
    • Select response: Teaching credential (nondegree program)
  • Question: At the beginning of the school year, will you be working on a master's or doctorate program (such as an MA, MBA, MD, JD, PhD, EdD, graduate certificate, etc.)?
    • Select response: No

Determining Your Dependency Status

Your dependency status for financial aid is re-evaluated each year, based on the new year’s DREAM Application.  You will either be considered “independent” or “dependent.” Dependent students are required to include information about their parents on the application.

Even if you no longer live at home, or you file your own taxes, you may still be considered a dependent student.  By answering a few questions, you can get a good idea of which category you fit into. 

You are considered an Independent Student if any one of the following applies to you:

  • You are or will be 24 years of age or older by December 31 of the award year (For example, born
    before January 1, 1994 (for 2017-2018 Application)
  • You are married, or         
  • You have children or dependents for whom you provide at least 50% of the support for, or
  • You are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces, having served on active duty, or
  • You are a ward of the court or both of your parents are deceased.

If none of the conditions above apply to you, you are considered a Dependent Student for financial aid purposes and must supply information about your parents on your FAFSA Application.

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.

Reporting 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. 

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: Next Steps

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.

After the FAFSA Video

Missed the Priority Deadline?

If you missed the Priority Filing Deadline (March 2nd), you should still complete the FAFSA Application.  Although you have missed the opportunity to be considered for CSULB and California State Grant funds for the upcoming year, there are other aid programs available to you.

In addition to the aid programs listed below, some scholarships, or private loans may require you to complete the FAFSA application to be considered.

Financial Aid Programs at CSULB that are not impacted by the Priority Filing Deadline:

  • Federal Pell Grant (for students working on Initial Credential only)
  • Federal Direct Loans

You will have the opportunity to be considered for CSULB and California State Grants next year – when you complete the FAFSA again (remember - you must complete a new FAFSA for each academic year).  The FAFSA becomes available every October 1st.

Be sure to complete the FAFSA prior to the Priority Filing Deadline, so that you can be considered for the full scope of funding available.