Financial Aid

A FAFSA® Roadmap: Tips to Keep in Mind

Tips include utilizing the Helps and Hints section, reporting a 0 rather than leaving an answer blank, not using nicknames, and using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool when possible.
man using laptop to complete the FAFSA

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) opens for business on October 1st.  Many families will be logging onto to complete this primary application for financial aid.  Keep in mind these guidelines as you navigate the FAFSA.

  • The Helps and Hints section, located on each FAFSA page, offers details and advice on answering each question.
  • When answering questions, report a zero when appropriate rather than leaving a question blank.
  • Don't use nicknames. The name reported for the student and parent must match the name on each person's Social Security card.
  • Students will be asked for an email address. Be sure the email address is one checked frequently throughout the financial aid process.
  • Parents without a Social Security Number will not be able to secure a FSA ID to sign the FAFSA electronically, and will therefore need to print, sign, and mail the FAFSA signature page.
  • The IRS Data Retrieval Tool, which allows applicants to pull IRS tax data electronically into the FAFSA, is a helpful tool that will speed up your FAFSA process. Use it if it's offered to you.

As you complete each step within the financial aid application process, don't hesitate to contact MEFA with any questions. You can reach us at 1-800-449-MEFA (6332) or You can also access a list of great FAQs with more FAFSA information on our website here.

Watch the Understanding the FAFSA webinar