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All About the FAFSA Process

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the most important financial aid form you will need to complete. It is important to use the most accurate information as possible when completing your FAFSA since the information you report is used by the Department of Education and Drexel University to determine your Expected Family Contribution and eligibility for federal and institutional need-based awards.

How to File a FAFSA

You can complete FAFSA in one of the following ways:

  • Online at at the FAFSA web site.
  • Complete and mail in a paper application.
  • Over the phone with a Department of Education counselor at 1-800-433-3243 (TTY Line for Hearing impaired is 1-800-730-8913)

Drexel Central recommends that you file your FAFSA online in order to make the process as efficient and timely as possible. In order to complete the FAFSA online, you and your parent (if you are a dependent student) will need to first retrieve your Personal Identification Number (PIN).

The FAFSA application is specific to an academic year, so you will need to make sure you are completing the correct version of the application. New FAFSA applications become available online at the beginning of January (for example, the FAFSA for the 2013-2014 academic year was made available on January 1, 2013).

What to Report on the FAFSA

Personal Information

You will need to provide some basic personal information on your FAFSA that includes:

  • Full legal name
  • Date of Birth
  • Social Security Number
  • Citizenship Status - (only U.S. Citizens, permanent residents and certain visa holders are eligible to complete a FAFSA)
  • Mailing Address
  • E-mail Address
  • Driver's License (optional)

In order for Drexel Central to match your FAFSA information to your university record, the spelling of your name, your date of birth and social security on your FAFSA must match what is listed in Drexel's system. If there is a discrepancy, you will need to resolve the issue with either Drexel Central or the Department of Education to ensure that your FAFSA data can be processed appropriately.

Dependency Status

What information you need to include on your FAFSA depends upon whether you are considered a dependent or independent student.

Dependent students are required to submit information about one or both parents on the FAFSA. Independent students are not required to submit parental information. However, independent students who are married are required to submit information about their spouse.

Your dependency status is determined by your answers to the dependency questions on the FAFSA. It is extremely important that you answer the dependency questions correctly as it has a significant impact on the financial aid you can receive.

In order to be considered an independent student, you must meet one of the following criteria as determined by the Department of Education:

  • As of the start of the calendar year, you be at least 24 years old
  • You are currently married
  • You are or will be a graduate or professional (medical or law) student for the upcoming year
  • You are a veteran
  • You are an active duty military personnel
  • You have children that receive more than 50% of their financial support from you
  • You have dependents that receive more than 50% of their financial support from you
  • You are an orphan
  • You are a ward-of-the-court
  • You are in a legal guardianship with someone who is not your biological or adoptive parent(s)
  • You are an emancipated minor as determined by the courts
  • Before you turned 18, you were deemed to be at risk of homelessness

If you answer yes to any of these questions, you are considered an independent student.

Medical students who intend to apply for scholarships or would like to be considered for the Primary Care Loan still need to provide information on their FAFSA even though you are considered an independent student.

If your answers to all of the dependency questions are no, then you are considered a dependent student and must provide information about your parents on the FAFSA. If you answered no to all of the dependency questions but have special circumstances that prevent you from providing information about your parents, you will need to contact Drexel Central to discuss your situation.

Parental Information

If you are a dependent student, you must provide information about your parents on your FAFSA. However, your parents' marital status determines what information you are to provide:

Parents' Marital Status What Information to Provide
Parents are married Provide information on both parents
Parents are divorced or separated

Provide information on your custodial parent; your custodial parent is the parent you will live with for more than 50% of the academic year. If you will live with both parents for an equal amount of time, provide information on the parent that provided more than 50% of your financial support in the past year.

Parents are divorced and re-married Provide information on your custodial parent AND your step-parent
Parent is widow or single Provide information on your custodial parent only.

Financial and Tax Information

The FAFSA requires that you provide tax and other financial information for yourself and your parents (if you are a dependent student) or your spouse (if you are married).

The online FAFSA application provides a helpful tool that allows you to ensure the accuracy of the tax information you are providing in a faster, more efficient way. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool provides you and your parents or spouse the ability to have your prior year's tax information transferred directly to the FAFSA, without you having to manually enter in the information yourself. Drexel Central strongly recommends that you use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to ensure the accuracy of the information you are reporting.

If you do not or are unable to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, you will need to collect the following documentation for all individuals you are reporting information for:

  • Prior year's tax returns
  • Prior year's W2s (End of Year Wage Statements from your employer)

Additionally, you may be required to report information that is not reported on tax returns such as:

  • Value of investment and bank accounts as of the month you are filing your FAFSA
  • Housing and Living Allowance received from military or clergy
  • Non-education VA Benefits
  • Child Support Received or Paid
  • Payments to Tax-deferred Pensions
  • Untaxed Income
  • Cash Received or Bills paid on your behalf

The online FAFSA application provides helpful hints and information for how to retrieve all information requested. You can also contact a FAFSA representative if you have any difficulty completing your application at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243).

Finalizing Your FAFSA

You will need to provide Drexel University's Federal School Code in order for your FAFSA to be received and processed by the University. Drexel's school code is 003256. If you attended another university or already completed a FAFSA but did not originally list Drexel's school code, you will need to update your application with Drexel's school code.

You will also need to sign your FAFSA in order for the Department of Education to process it and send the information to Drexel University. If you are a dependent student, then one of the parents listed on your FAFSA will also need to sign the application. If you are completing the form online, you and your parent can sign the FAFSA electronically using your PIN.

Student Aid Report

The Department of Education typically takes 3-5 business days to fully process your FAFSA once you have submitted a complete application. Once your FAFSA is fully processed, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) that will indicate any issues with your application and your potential next steps. If there are any errors or issues that you need to resolve you will need to follow the instructions listed on the SAR to correct them. Your Student Aid Report will also include your Expected Family Contribution as calculated by the Department of Education.

The information that is reported on your SAR is also sent to the schools you listed on your FAFSA. Drexel University should receive your FAFSA data at the same time you recieve your SAR.

Filing a Renewal FAFSA

Each year you plan to continue at Drexel you will need to complete a new FAFSA. The online FAFSA application automatically saves your demographic information from prior years and allows you pull this information into your new FAFSA application, reducing the amount of questions you need to answer. The option to use this feature will be presented to you when you log in to the FAFSA web site.

FAFSA Filing Deadlines

In order to be considered for all types of financial aid programs, students must complete the FAFSA by the deadlines listed below:

Student Type  Deadline 
New Students starting in Spring or Summer of 2015  Same as Admissions Application Deadline
New Students Starting in Fall of 2015 March 2, 2015 
New Students Starting in Winter, Spring or Summer of 2015  Same as Admissions Application Deadline 
All Continuing Students  March 2, 2015