Five Tips for Filing the 2023-2024 FAFSA

Money is available to help pay for higher education and the first step is to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). All schools use the FAFSA to determine eligibility for federal financial aid and the Maine State Grant, and many schools also use the FAFSA to determine eligibility for their grant funds. Filing the FAFSA is also the key to accessing Free Community College! Here are five tips to make the FAFSA easier! 

1. Create a Federal Student Aid Account (an FSA ID) at

The FSA ID is the username and password students need to access all Federal Student Aid websites, including the FAFSA. All students need to create an account and set up their FSA ID. If parent information is required on the FAFSA, at least one parent needs to create an account and set up their own FSA ID if they don't have one already. When creating an FSA account, individuals must have the ability to receive a text and/or an email. Use FAME's FSA ID Tracking Sheet to keep track of your FSA ID information.

Create Account

2. File Your FAFSA at

The FAFSA is part of the website, and the easiest way to access it is by entering in your browser's address bar.

Filing the FAFSA is FREE and must be done every year. If parent information is required on the FAFSA, the student and parent should be together, if at all possible, when completing the FAFSA.

File Your FAFSA

3. Get prepared.

The 2023-2024 FAFSA requires tax and income information from 2021. Be sure to have tax returns and W2s handy when completing the FAFSA and use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) within the FAFSA if available. Use our Get Ready checklist to make sure you have everything you need to file.

4. Take a deep breath.

The FAFSA is an online application that has experienced periodic technical issues. Here are a few challenges and recommendations:

  • When creating FSA accounts, an email is sent to verify you are the owner of that account. Currently emails are taking about three minutes to come through. (Texts are coming through almost immediately.) Just hold tight for several minutes. If it still hasn’t come through, resend a code, check both your junk and regular folders, or as a last resort, back up in the process and remove the email address. Be sure to go back in and add your email address later.
  • The site can be slow, especially in the late afternoon and early evening on weeknights. If the site is particularly sluggish, you can log out, come back later, and pick up right where you left off. The FAFSA saves as you go but it is always a good idea to click save before exiting.
  • If you receive an error message or the site is unresponsive, try some basic troubleshooting tips, like clearing cookies and caches, trying a different browser, and limiting the number of open tabs.

5. Take advantage of FREE help.

Free help is available from a variety of sources, including FAME. FAME offers help in a variety of ways.

Use FAME's Online Help

Contact a FAME FAFSA Expert

For more information, check out our recent webinar: 

Filing the 2023-3034 FAFSA

It’s FAFSA time! The 2023-2024 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) became available October 1. During this webinar, we share important information about the FSA ID and review the FAFSA section by section, with a focus on the questions that provide the biggest challenges for students. Learn what’s new, what’s improved, and how to answer the questions students and families most often ask when completing this year’s FAFSA.

Watch the Webinar

For additional helpful information and resources, find previous tips on our website.


FAME's College Access and Financial Education Team:


Mila TappanCollege Access and Outreach Manager

Jessica WhittierCollege Access Counselor 

Nikki VachonCollege Access Counselor

Maria MacDougalCollege Access Counselor

Floreka MalualCollege Planning Advisor

Mary DyerFinancial Education Programs Manager

Sarah NewcombFinancial Education Programs Specialist

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