Step 1 - Prepare
Gather all the documents you will need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The 2023-2024 FAFSA requires your 2021 tax information.
On the 2023-24 FAFSA, you (and your parents if you are a dependent student) will report your 2021 income information.
Since you’ll probably already have filed your 2021 taxes by the time the FAFSA is available, you may be eligible to import your tax information into the FAFSA right away using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT).
The IRS DRT is the fastest, most accurate way to input your tax return information into the FAFSA. To address security and privacy concerns related to the IRS DRT, the tax return information you transfer from the IRS will not display.
Not everyone is eligible to use the IRS DRT, and the IRS DRT does not input all the financial information required on the FAFSA. Therefore, you should have your 2021 tax return and 2021 IRS W-2s available for reference.
You cannot use your 2022 tax information. We understand that for some families, 2021 income doesn’t accurately reflect your current financial situation. If you have experienced a reduction in income since the 2021 tax year, you should complete the FAFSA with 2021 information, and then contact each of the schools to which you’re applying to explain and document the change in income. Schools have the ability to assess your situation and adjust your FAFSA, if warranted.
Step 2 - Complete
Filing early is key! The FAFSA opens October 1 of every year. We strongly encourage our students to complete the FAFSA as early as possible. This will ensure that they have enough time to complete any missing financial aid documents or make any necessary financial plans for the upcoming school year. FAFSA school code: 008849.
For more information on completing your FAFSA, please visit the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid page on YouTube to view a variety of helpful How-To videos.
If you haven’t already, create a Federal Student Aid (FSA) account by setting up a username and password. Each student, and—if you’re a dependent—one of your parents, will need an FSA account (also known as an FSA ID) to complete the FAFSA process on fafsa.gov. We recommend creating your account early—even before you’re ready to complete the FAFSA—to avoid delays in the process. That’s because you may need to wait up to three days to use your FSA account after creating it.
IMPORTANT: Do NOT create an FSA account on behalf of someone else. That means parents should not create FSA accounts for their children and vice versa. In addition to being against the rules to create an FSA account for someone else, doing so may result in issues signing and submitting the FAFSA and could lead to financial aid delays.
You can find the number on your Social Security card. If you don’t have access to it or you don’t know where it is, you can request a new or replacement card from the Social Security Administration. If you are not a U.S. citizen but meet Federal Student Aid’s other eligibility criteria, you’ll also need your Alien Registration number. Both parents and students need this information for the FAFSA.
If you don’t have a driver’s license, don’t worry about this step!
Be sure to add any college you’re considering, even if you haven’t applied or been accepted yet.
The schools you list on your FAFSA will electronically receive your FAFSA results within 3-5 business days. They will use your FAFSA information to determine the types and amounts of financial aid you may receive.
You can list up to 10 schools at a time on your FAFSA. If you’re applying to more than 10 schools, here’s what you should do.
Step 3 - Review
In 3-5 business days you will receive your Student Aid Report (SAR). If necessary, make corrections to your SAR so that the most accurate information is reported. Please keep in mind that it will take an additional 3-5 business days for our office to receive any corrections you make.
The FAFSA questions about untaxed income, such as child support, interest income, and veterans’ non-education benefits, may or may not apply to you. On the 2023-24 FAFSA, you’ll report 2021 tax or calendar year information when asked these questions. Find specific details that pertain to parents and students.
This section includes savings and checking account balances, as well as the value of investments such as stocks, bonds, and real estate excluding your primary residence. Report the current amounts as of the date you sign the FAFSA form, rather than reporting the 2021 tax year amounts.
IMPORTANT: Misreporting the value of investments is a common FAFSA mistake. Please carefully review what is and is not considered a student investment and parent investment to make sure you don’t over- or under-report. You may be surprised by what can (and cannot) be excluded.
Step 4 - Respond
Once our office receives your FAFSA we will begin to package you with the financial aid you are eligible to receive. Accepted PBA students are able to receive their award letters as early as November prior to their academic year start date. This process generally takes 2-3 weeks to complete and is dependent on all financial aid documents being submitted.
For incoming students, please reach out to your Admissions Counselor with any questions regarding your financial aid offer.
For returning students, contact the Financial Aid Office with any questions or concerns.
If you have been admitted and have your PBA login credentials available, you may also view your financial aid offer in the Financial Aid Portal through myPBA.
Step 5 - Receive
Your aid will be disbursed after the Office of the Registrar completes enrollment verification each semester. Your aid will first be applied to your tuition, fees, and miscellaneous charges. Any remaining aid on your account will be credit balance, or refund. Students receive their refunds approximately one month after classes have started (this is dependent on course enrollment – please contact our office for more information).
With your NelNet Campus Commerce account you can view your account balance, see your account details, and make payments. Click above to set up your preferences!
All student account refunds will be issued via direct deposit to your bank account OR a physical check. If you do not select a payment method, the default option will be a check mailed to the legal home address on file; however, please note that physical checks take longer to process. The fastest way to receive your funds is to select Direct Deposit.
To select a refunding preference, log into your NelNet Campus Commerce account today!
Step 6 - Renew
You will need to renew your FAFSA application before the beginning of each academic year. One academic year includes Fall, Spring, and Summer.
Have additional questions?
FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This form is the single most important financial aid gateway. It asks you questions about the student’s (and, if you are under the age of 24, the student’s parents’) income and savings to estimate how much aid the student needs. Your FAFSA information is used to award federal grants, state grants, and numerous scholarships from colleges, foundations, and companies.
Visit www.fafsa.gov (or get the “My Student Aid” app) to complete the 2022-23 FAFSA. You will need your FSA ID and Password. If you or your parent have not yet created an FSA ID, you will need to visit fsaid.ed.gov before starting the FAFSA. You will also need you and your parents (if dependent student) 2020 tax information. The FAFSA opens October 1 of each year.
PBA does not have a specific deadline to complete the FAFSA, however, the Financial Aid office encourages students to fill is out as soon as they are able to, in order for their file to be complete within a timely manner for the next academic year. Bills are due August 1 of each academic year, so students MUST have all documents completed with our office in order for financial aid to be applied.
After submitting your FAFSA, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR), which is a summary of the FAFSA data you submitted. Review your SAR for accuracy, as this information will be sent to PBA to determine your eligibility. Once we receive your FAFSA, a preliminary award letter will be sent to you within 5 to 10 business days. Please check the Financial Aid portal on your myPBA account to ensure you are not missing any additional documents, which would prevent us from packaging your financial aid package.
The new federal regulation for verifying FAFSA income information against the IRS database is meant to streamline the FAFSA correction process. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool is the easiest method of accomplishing this requirement.
It takes approximately three weeks, from the time you file your federal tax return before the IRS information is available for you to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.
Federal Tax Returns that are mailed to the IRS will be available online from the IRS Data Retrieval Tool approximately 9-11 weeks after filed.
Students will use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool for the Student Financial Information section and parents of dependent students will use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool for the Parent Financial Information section.
For 2022-2023, applicants filing an initial or renewal FAFSA application or making a correction are eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval tool if you meet all of the following criteria:
- Must have valid SSN
- Must have filed a 2020 federal tax return
- Must have unchanged marital status since December 31, 2020
The following list represents those who cannot use the IRS Data Retrieval tool for 2022-23:
- Parents who filed their federal tax returns using a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) or completed the FAFSA using all zeroes for SSN
- Any student or parent with a marital status date of January 1, 2020 or later
- Any student or parent who indicates they have not already filed a tax return or will not file a tax return
- Any student or parent who is married but file separate federal income tax returns (e.g., married filing separately or head of household)
- Parents who are unmarried but living together and parents have an informal separation but continue to file a joint federal income tax return (e.g., married filing jointly).
- Any student or parent who have filed foreign income tax returns instead of or in addition to a U.S. federal income tax return
If you successfully use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool and subsequently change FAFSA data, you will need to either use the Data Retrieval Tool again, and NOT change the information from the IRS, or provide us with a Tax Transcript.