How to Apply for FAFSA as a Single Mother

FAFSA is the only reason why a lot of people are able to afford to go to college. Because they are usually raising their families on a single income, it is especially important for single mothers to properly fill out their child’s FAFSA form every year.

Applying for FAFSA is not as complicated as you might think, and these are the basic steps to help you through the process.

Create an Online Account

The first thing that you need to do to apply for FAFSA as a single mother is to create an account on the FAFSA website. There are two FAFSA ID’s that need to be created, one for you and one for the child you are filling out the FAFSA form for.

When you register your account you have to provide a phone number and an email address. These items need to be unique to each account that you register with FAFSA. Your completion of this form will be your virtual signature throughout the entire application process.

You should not share your FSA ID with anybody, even your children. Hold onto these FSA IDs because you will need them every year to apply for aid.

Fill Out the FAFSA Form Online

You will find the FAFSA form on the website. If you are a single mother filling out the FAFSA form for your child, you will select the option that says “I am a parent filling out the FAFSA form for a student.”

Make sure that you select the right form to fill out. You can fill out a form for this year, or you can fill out a form for the next academic year. You will also create a save key during this process. This will allow you to exit the application and return to finish it at another time.

Fill Out The Student Demographic Section

After you have started your FAFSA form, you will have to enter the demographic information of you and your child. This will include information like their birthday, their name, date of birth, and other demographic questions.

If you are filling out your second FAFSA form, you will find that most of this information was automatically saved in the form and does not have to be filled out a second time. Still, you should double check to make sure that the information you entered for your child is the exact same way that it appears on their Social Security card.

List the Schools that you will give your Financial Information Too

The next thing that you will have to do as a single mother filling out a FAFSA application is to write the names of all of the schools that you want to receive your child’s information from.

You should include the names of every college your child is even thinking about attending, regardless of whether they have applied or been accepted. The information is not shared between schools, so it will not have an impact on whether or not your child is accepted into their dream school.

Answer the Questions About Your Dependents

The next part of the FAFSA form is going to be asking you about your dependents. This part of the form is what determines if it is even necessary for the school to receive your personal information.

Even if your child supports themselves and lives separately from you, they can still be considered as dependents in some cases for FAFSA standards. The United States Congress sets the standards about who counts as a dependent, and it is a different standard than who counts as a dependent by the IRS standards.

If your child qualifies as a dependent, then your demographic information will need to be sent to the school they are applying to. If your child does not qualify as a dependent, then they will not need to send your demographic information to the school in question.

Fill Out the Parent Demographics Section

If it turns out that you do have to submit your own demographic information to the colleges in question, then the next thing that you have to do is to fill out the parent demographic section of the FAFSA form.

This section will ask you questions about your marital status, whether you live with the child’s other parent, and which parent provided more financial support to the child. All of this is to help financial aid determine the amount of aid that your child is eligible to receive.

Give Your Financial Information

The next step in the process is to fill out your personal financial information. This step is actually very simple if you use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.

This is a tool that lets you import your financial information directly from your IRS tax documents into your FAFSA form. This will also lower the amount of paperwork that you have to do and the amount that you have to submit to your child’s school.

In order to access this free tool, you will need to check that you have already completed your taxes while you are filling out the page on parent finances. If you are eligible to use this tool, you will then receive a link to the tool that you can access.

Once you have done this, you will now be able to enter your child’s financial information into the form. If your child has not filed their own taxes this year, you will have to manually enter this information into the form.

In order to do this, you will have to save your progress in the application and log out so that your child can log on using their FAF ID.

If your child has filed their own taxes this year, then you can use the same IRS Data Retrieval Tool to access their tax information the same way that you used this tool to access your own. You will have to use their FSA ID in order to access this.

Sign Your Child’s FAFSA Form

Both you and your child will have to sign the FAFSA forms that you fill out. The simplest and most effective way to do this is to use your FSA ID to sign the forms online.

If you do not remember your FSA ID you can retrieve it online. However, it is important to avoid getting your FSA ID confused with your child’s, and vice versa. This is a common problem that students face and causes them to lose out on financial aid opportunities.

You should also make sure that you selected the right parent number for yourself. If you are a single mother, you will probably be listed as Parent 1 on the form. However, if there is another parent who provides financial support to the child, you may be listed as Parent 2.

It is best to sign the FAFSA form with your online FSA ID. However, this is not always an option for everybody.

If for some reason either you or your child is unable to sign the form, you also have the option to print out the application, fill everything out by hand, and mail it in to the FSA office. This is still an option, but it will result in a significant delay in your application being processed.

Final Thoughts

These are the simple steps that single mothers need to follow in order to properly fill out their child’s FAFSA form.

Learn more about Grants and Government Assistance Programs for Single Mothers.