It all starts with the FAFSA

The FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is the application used to determine your eligibility for federal and state aid (including grants, loans, and work-study), calculate your need, award your financial aid, and prepare your financial aid notification (FAN).

Be sure to submit a FAFSA each year to be considered for federal & state aid and any need-based aid that requires FAFSA documentation.

What you'll need

Make sure you have the important pieces of information listed here. Having everything together before you start will make filling out the FAFSA easier.

To file your FAFSA, you (and one of your parents, if you are a dependent) need to create a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID. This is a username and password combination that you’ll use to securely access your financial aid information and electronically sign your FAFSA.

Learn more about your FSA ID

IU East’s federal school code is 001811.

You’ll need your tax information from two years before the academic year for which you’re seeking aid. For example, to apply for aid for the 2023–24 academic year, you’ll fill out the 2023–24 FAFSA and include your 2021 tax information.

Use the IRS data retrieval tool

When you update your FAFSA after filing your taxes, you may be able to use the IRS data retrieval tool to import your tax information directly into your FAFSA. You’ll find the IRS data retrieval tool in the financial information section of your FAFSA.

To use the tool to pull your tax information in automatically, you must:

  • Have filed a federal tax return with the IRS
  • Provide a valid social security number
  • Provide your FSA ID

Learn how to use the tool

Enter your data by hand

If you’re not able to use the IRS data retrieval tool, you can enter your data manually.

You’ll need your federal tax return and W2 form for the year before (if you file your FAFSA by December 31) or for two years before (if you file your FAFSA after January 1) AND

  • Your parents’ federal tax return and W2 form if you’re a dependent OR
  • Your spouse’s federal tax return and W2 form if you’re married

You’ll need your Social Security number. You’ll also need your parents’ Social Security numbers if you’re a dependent.

Not a U.S. citizen? You’ll need your alien registration number, also known as your alien number, A-Number, or USCIS#.

You’ll need information about your savings, investments, and business assets. You’ll also need information about your parents’ savings, investments, and business assets if you’re a dependent.

Once you’ve gathered everything you need, you’re ready to file your FAFSA. The online application will guide you through the process—just follow the directions on the screen. You’re all set!

A note about dependency

Your dependency status is determined by a group of dependency questions on the FAFSA. If you can’t answer “yes” to any of the questions, you’ll be considered dependent and advised to supply parental information on your FAFSA.

You’re considered to be a dependent if you:

  • Are under 24 years old
  • Are not a graduate or professional student
  • Are not a veteran or member of the armed forces
  • Are not an orphan or ward of the court
  • Are not homeless or at risk for becoming homeless
  • Are not an emancipated minor

If you do not meet the above criteria, but have unusual circumstances that prevent you from obtaining parental information, you may request dependency status appeal.