FAFSA Tips

Quick Tips for Filing the FAFSA

File your FAFSA at FAFSA.gov.

How do I get help if I have a question?

  • Our staff is available to answer your FAFSA questions:
  • By phone: 201-200-3173
  • By email: financialaid@njcu.edu –  emails will be answered during business hours

Help is also available within the FAFSA. Look for the help buttons located on each page

  • A Help Button is located at the top of each page, as well as next to each question

The Federal Student Aid Information Center can also answer questions:

  • By phone: 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243); available Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday from 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • By email: Complete the form at StudentAid.gov/help-center/contact

How do I move through the FAFSA?

  • Use the previous and next buttons on the bottom of your FAFSA. 
  • Do NOT use browser’s back and forward arrows at the top left of your screen.
  • Use your “tab” key to move from one question to the next or your mouse to left click into an answer field. Do NOT use your “enter” key.

What is the difference between my FSA ID and my Save Key? 
Your FSA ID allows you access to Federal Student Aid (FSA) websites, including FAFSA.gov. Your FSA ID also allows you to electronically sign and submit your FAFSA. You will continue to use your FSA ID in the future. Your Save Key (a combination of 4-8 characters that you create) is a temporary feature that allows you to go back to work on a saved FAFSA that you have not yet submitted.

Can I save what I have and come back later? 
Yes. You will use your Save Key to get back into your saved FAFSA.

What year of income information is required on the 2022-2023 FAFSA? 
The 2022-2023 FAFSA requires income information from the 2020 tax year, even if your family’s current income is less than in 2020. If that is your situation, be sure to follow up with the financial aid office to discuss an appeal after you FAFSA has been filed.

What is the best way to provide my income and my tax information?

  • If possible, use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) within the FAFSA to transfer 2020 income and tax information from the IRS into the FAFSA. Having your 2020 federal tax return in front of you will make it easier to use the IRS DRT.
  • When using the IRS DRT, income and tax information will not be displayed. Instead, updated fields will say “Transferred from the IRS.” The schools on your FAFSA will be able to see the transferred information.
  • Using the IRS DRT is best as it updates the FAFSA and verifies the information all in one step. However, there are a few items that do not transfer when using the IRS DRT, so be sure you have your 2020 federal tax return, applicable schedules, and W2’s in front of you.

What do I list for income information if I don’t file taxes? 
Use your W-2 form(s) to list income earned from work.

The FAFSA includes a section for you to report your untaxed income. 
Do not include extended foster care benefits, Supplemental Security Income, Workforce Investment Act educational benefits, on-base military housing or a military housing allowance, combat pay, benefits from flexible spending arrangements (e.g., cafeteria plans), foreign income exclusion or credit for federal tax on special fuels.

For the “number in school” question, should I include my siblings if they are in school but do not live at home? 
Include siblings who are counted in the FAFSA “household” question and who are enrolled at least half-time in a degree or certificate program. Do NOT include your parents, even if they are enrolled in school.

What are considered assets and what are not?

  • Assets that must be reported include your current total balance of cash, savings, and checking accounts, college investing accounts, net worth of investments, real estate such as rental property, land, and summer homes.
  • Assets that are not reported include the home you live in, your family farm or family business with 100 or fewer employees, personal possessions, pensions and whole life insurance, and retirement accounts.

If you are a dependent student who must include parent information on the FAFSA, the following will help you determine which parent(s) you must include information for:

  • If your biological or adoptive parents live together, regardless of marital status or gender, answer the questions about both of them.
  • If your biological or adoptive parents are divorced or separated, include information for the parent that you live with most during the last 12 months. If that parent has remarried, also include your stepparent.
  • If you live with your parents equally, include information for the parent that provides the most financial support. If that parent has remarried, also include your stepparent. If one of your parents is deceased, answer the questions about the surviving parent. If that parent is remarried as of the date you file the FAFSA, answer questions about your parent and your stepparent.
  • If you live with a foster parent, legal guardian, grandparent, or other relative, they are not considered a parent for purposes of filing the FAFSA unless that person has legally adopted you.
  • If you do not live with your parents, you must still include parent information. To determine which parent, use the guidelines above, going back to the most recent 12 months period in which you lived with a parent or they provided financial support to you.