Filing Your FAFSA: Easy as 1, 2, 3
Each year's FAFSA is used for fall, spring and summer terms. For instance, for the fall 2019, spring 2020 and summer 2020 terms, you will need to complete the FAFSA for 2019-20. Follow the three simple steps below to help you complete your FAFSA application.
Note: While all students are encouraged to submit a FAFSA, USC does not require one
for general scholarship consideration.
Step 1: Create Your FSA ID
Your Federal Student Aid ID is a unique number assigned to you through the U.S. Department
of Education. It provides access to your FAFSA records and serves as your electronic
signature. Once you receive your FSA ID, you have immediate access to your FAFSA,
and you will use the same ID every year you apply for aid. Only one FSA ID and FAFSA
application are needed per student, even if you are applying to multiple schools.
Create your new FSA ID »
Step 2: Complete the FAFSA
Once you have created your FSA ID, you will need to complete the application, which
can be completed online or as a paper copy that can be mailed. This application determines
your eligibility for all forms of financial aid, so it is very important that you
take time to read all instructions carefully and be as accurate as possible. Filing
is free, and your application can be submitted anytime after Oct. 1 each year to be
eligible for aid the following academic year.
Learn more about what to expect and complete your FAFSA »
Step 3: Provide Additional Documentation
Each year, a number of applications are selected for verification, a process required
by the U.S. Department of Education through which information on the FAFSA must be
documented to assure its accuracy. You will receive an email that notifies you to
check your eligibility and unsatisfied requirements on Self-Service Carolina, where instructions for completing your verification responsibilities can be found.
Prepare yourself with the required FAFSA documentation »
Frequently Asked Questions about the FAFSA
How do I make corrections to my FAFSA?
To make corrections to your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), click the Login button on the home page and log into FAFSA on the Web, and then click Make FAFSA Corrections.
When correcting your FAFSA, you can:
- Add or remove colleges from your application
- Change your e-mail or mailing address
- Correct any field in your FAFSA other than your Social Security Number (SSN)
I can't correct my FAFSA because my name, date of birth and/or SSN is incorrect. What should I do?
If you filed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) using an incorrect Social Security Number (SSN), you have two options:
- You can submit a new FAFSA online with the correct SSN. In many cases, this is the easiest and fastest option. Submitting a new FAFSA will change your submitted/processed date, though, so be sure you won't miss a state or school deadline by doing so.
- You can correct the SSN. There are two ways to do this. You can change your SSN on a paper Student Aid Report (SAR) (see below) and mail in the correction, which takes several weeks. Or, you can ask the financial aid office at one of the colleges listed on your SAR to change it for you.
If you filed a FAFSA with a correct SSN but incorrect name or date of birth (DOB), you will not be able to make a correction online because your FAFSA information will not match your FSA ID information.
To correct your name or DOB when your SSN is correct, you can:
- Change your name or DOB on a paper Student Aid Report (SAR), or
- Ask the financial aid office at one of the colleges listed on your SAR to change it for you.
If you need a paper SAR, you can call the Federal Student Aid Information Center to request a copy be mailed to you.
My parents don't provide any financial support and I file myself on my taxes. Am I required to include them on the FAFSA?
If you can answer "no" to all of the following questions, generally your parents must provide parental information on your FAFSA:
Were you born before January 1, 1995?
As of today are you married?
At the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year, will you be working on a master’s or doctorate program (such as an MA, MBA, MD, JD, PhD, EdD, or graduate certificate, etc.)?
Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training?
Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces?
Do you now have or will you have children who will receive more than half of their support from you between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019?
Do you have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half of their support from you, now and through June 30, 2019?
At any time since you turned age 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care or were you a dependent or ward of the court?
If you are not sure if you were in foster care, check with your state child welfare agency. You can find out the contact information for your state child welfare agency by visiting your state child welfare agency.
As determined by a court in your state of legal residence, are you or were you an emancipated minor?
Does someone other than your parent or stepparent have legal guardianship of you, as determined by a court in your state of legal residence?
At any time on or after July 1, 2017, did your high school or school district homeless liaison determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?
At any time on or after July 1, 2017, did the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?
At any time on or after July 1, 2017, did the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?
If you answered "no" to all of the questions but you have a special circumstance that may prevent you from providing parental information, contact our office to speak with a counselor.
Who is considered a parent on the FAFSA?
A legal parent includes a biological or adoptive parent, or a person that the state has determined to be your parent. Grandparents, foster parents, legal guardians, older brothers or sisters, widowed stepparents, and aunts and uncles are not considered parents unless they have legally adopted you.