The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) opens annually on October 1. UTK students need to complete their FAFSA every year to apply for or remain eligible for most types of aid, including grants, need-based scholarships, Federal Work-Study, the HOPE scholarship, loans, and more!
Your parents’ Social Security numbers if you are a dependent student
Your driver’s license (if you possess one)
If you are not a US citizen, you’ll need your Alien Registration number
Federal tax info, tax documents, tax returns. This includes IRS W-2 information for you (if you are married, you’ll also need your spouse’s) and your parents if you are a dependent student.
Records of your untaxed income, like child support you’ve received, interest income, and veterans non-education benefits. You will also need these records for your parents if you are a dependent student.
Info on your cash, savings and checking account balances, investments (including stocks, bonds, and real estate), and business and farm assets. You will also need this information from your parents if you are a dependent student.
We encourage ALL students, prospective and current, to complete their FAFSA as soon as possible, as some funds are limited!
Prospective Students- The Early Action FAFSA deadline is December 1st
If you applied by November 1st, you are an early action applicant, and should file your FAFSA by December 1st to receive your financial aid package in January. (Otherwise you’ll receive your financial aid package in March.)
UT’s priority FAFSA deadline is February 1st
Tennessee Student Assistance Award (TSAA) FAFSA deadline is also February 1st
Almost everyone is eligible for some type of federal aid. FASFA determines your eligibility.
If it’s your first time filing the FAFSA, you’ll need to get an FSA ID before you start! Go here to set up your account. You’ll use the same FSA ID every year when you file the FAFSA, so make sure to keep your account information.
Complete your FAFSA early, as some funds are limited. This helps ensure that your FAFSA can be processed in time for your upcoming school year. The Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships will contact you through your UT email account if more documents are needed, so respond to any requests as soon as you can.
FAFSA uses income information for the tax year two years prior to the FAFSA year. For example, the 2023–24 FAFSA will use income information from 2021. Use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to enter accurate tax information.
FAFSA is requiredeach year to receive, and maintain, the HOPE Scholarship for in-state students.
UT’s priority FAFSA filing date is February 1. Be sure to file your FAFSA by then.
Not filling out a FAFSA at all! You could potentially miss out on thousands of dollars to help you finance your college education if you don’t file.
Missing the early filing deadline. Funds and aid are limited! We strongly encourage you to file as soon as possible once the FAFSA application opens each year on October 1st!
Starting the FAFSA without first getting your FSA ID. BEFORE you start filling out your FAFSA, visit this website to set up your FSA ID.
Not using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. If your FAFSA gives you the option to use this tool, it can help automatically pull your tax information into the FAFSA form.
Inputting incorrect information. Many students confuse parent info and student info in different sections. If the FAFSA says “your” or “yours”, it’s referring to the student. Any parent information needed will be clearly specified as parent information in the section.
Inputting information that does NOT match your FSA ID. Your name, date of birth, and social security number need to be entered in the same way when you set up your FSA ID and when you file your FAFSA. If this happens to you and you receive an error, go here to learn what to do.
Confusion over the amount of income tax to report. The FAFSA form is asking for your assessed income tax liability, not the amount of income tax withheld or your adjusted gross income. This can be confusing an complicated! To avoid this common error, you can transfer your tax information to the FAFSA form using the IRS DRT. Or you can find which tax line number you should use to find the amount of your income tax. (Note: It will depend on which IRS form you filed.)
Not providing required information. Parent information and additional financial information are the two most common areas where incorrect or incomplete information are given by FAFSA filers. Read #8 on this list to learn more about both!
Listing only one college on your FAFSA. You should list ALL colleges you are considering on your FAFSA, even if you aren’t certain you’ll apply or be accepted. You can list up to 10 colleges at a time.
Forgetting to sign (using FSA ID) and submit the FAFSA form. Have your FSA ID handy and ready during the entire FAFSA process, as you’ll need to input it several times. If you signed up for an FSA ID, but can’t find or remember it, go here.
Selecting the wrong classifications can negatively impact your aid and cause delays along the way. Here are the most common definitions people get confused about on the FAFSA and mark incorrectly: (click the definition to go to the website that covers each topic!)
Legal Guardianship – many students answer “yes” when asked if someone other than their parent or stepparent has legal guardianship of them. They choose yes thinking if they are an adult, this means they are their own legal guardian. That is incorrect for the FAFSA form; you cannot be your own legal guardian.
Parents– this part can be confusing. It actually does not mean the parent who claims the student on their taxes. Click “Parents” to learn more!
Number of Family Members in College– You will count yourself, as well as people in your or your parent’s household, who are attending college at the same time as you. You will NOT count your parents, even if they are attending college at the same time as you.
Net Worth of Investments– There are specific things that count or do not count as net worth of investments. Make sure to click on “Net Worth of Investments” to learn more!