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Tips for Filing FAFSA

The FAFSA asks for financial information, including balances of savings and checking accounts and information from tax forms. Use income records for the tax year prior to the academic year for which you are applying: for instance, if you are filling out the 2020 – 2021 FAFSA, you will need 2018 tax information.

If you have done your taxes, be sure to consider the option in FAFSA on the Web to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. You may be able to use the tool if you filed your taxes electronically at least three weeks ago or if you filed on paper at least eight weeks ago.

The IRS Data Retrieval Tool takes you to the IRS website, where you'll need to log in by providing your name and other information exactly as you provided it on your tax return.

At the IRS site, you can preview your information to make sure it looks correct before agreeing to have it transferred to your FAFSA.

When you return to the FAFSA, you'll see that questions that are populated with tax information will be marked with "Transferred from the IRS." Don't make any changes to those answers (except where Individual Retirement Account or pension rollovers are involved), or you'll invalidate the information you retrieved.

Using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool saves you time and effort:

  • You don't have to find your tax records and locate the data needed for your FAFSA.
  • You don't have to worry about making mistakes entering your tax information on your FAFSA.
  • If you use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool and don't change any of the retrieved information in your FAFSA, you won't need to provide tax transcripts if you're selected for verification.

Once you complete and submit the FAFSA on-line, the processed information will be sent electronically from the Federal Processor to WSSU within two weeks, provided that you included WSSU's school code (002968) on the FAFSA. A Student Aid Report (SAR) will be sent to you to confirm the data entered on the FAFSA.

Reminders when Filing the FAFSA

  • Read the instructions for the FAFSA before you fill it out. This is very important. Errors and omissions delay processing and awarding.
  • Make sure your name, Social Security Number, and birth date are correct on the FAFSA to prevent delays.
  • When you complete the tax-related questions on the FAFSA, pay special attention to the tax form line numbers given for some questions. These will guide you to the correct figures to use from your tax forms.
  • Be sure you submit the FAFSA with your and your parent's FSA ID when you file the FAFSA. The FSA ID serves as your and your parent's signature on the FAFSA.  Without appropriate FSA ID (signatures), your application will not be processed.
  • Be sure you enter your correct housing code. If you do not enter the correct housing code or do not enter any code at all, your financial aid award may be incorrect and may have to be recalculated.
  • DO NOT send tax returns or other extraneous information to the Federal Processor after you complete the FAFSA. But DO keep these documents for your records. You may need to provide copies of them later, if requested to do so.