FAFSA - This is the FAFSA website. Use this site to complete your FAFSA.
Nitro College - This site breaks down the FAFSA question by question.
FSA ID FAQs - This document will explain the Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID) and show you how to obtain one.
What if my parents are worried about providing their private information o the FAFSA?
Their information is safe with Federal Student Aid. It is recommended that you fill out the FAFSA online, where your information is put into special code before it is sent over the Internet. FAFSA information is only used for financial aid purposes.
What if I don't live with my parents?
If you are considered a dependent, you must answer the questions about your parents, regardless of your living situation.
What if my parents aren't going to help me pay for college and refuse to provide information for my FAFSA?
You cannot be considered independent just because your parents refuse to help with the FAFSA process. If your application does not include all of the required information, it will be considered "incomplete," and you might not be able to receive any federal student aid.
What if I have no contact with my parents?
If you don't know where your parents live, or if you left your home because of abuse, you should fill out the FAFSA and then immediately get in touch with the financial aid office at the schools you plan to attend. Financial aid administrators will tell you what to do next.
How do I create an FSA ID?
What if my parent(s) do not have a Social Security number?
Parents without a Social Security number are unable to create an FSA ID. Instead, these parents will need to complete a signature page. The signature page includes the student's ID, name, and address; the type of application completed; and a randomly generated identification number. Parents without a Social Security number can sign their students' FAFSA by printing, signing, and mailing signature pages.
Does my FSA ID expire?
Your username and password do not expire. You will be prompted to change your password only during account recovery or for a security event.
What if I forget my FSA ID?
If you have forgotten your username or password, don't worry. On the Federal Student Aid's login pages, you will find links that give you the option of retrieving your username and password through your verified email address or by successfully answering your challenge questions.
What do I do if I get a message saying my FSA ID is locked?
An FSA ID is locked after three unsuccessful authentication attempts. There are two possible solutions. You can either have a secure code sent to your email address or you can answer your challenge questions.
What should I do if my parents forgot their PIN?
If your parents have forgotten their PIN, they can either answer their PIN challenge questions or just create their FSA ID from scratch. Remember, a PIN is not required to create an FSA ID.
My parents haven't filed their tax return yet. Do I have to wait to complete my FAFSA?
No. FAFSA follows the PPY or Prior-Prior Year, initiative that allows students to complete their FAFSA with income information from an earlier tax year. This means students do not have to wait until their parents or guardians file their current ear tax return in order to complete their FAFSA.
First Steps to Financial Readiness
Student loan comparison tool to help students and their families make informed borrowing decisions.
Children of Texas Veterans, disabled veterans, and veterans who transferred some of their Post 9/11 GI Benefits may be eligible to have tuition, housing, and books covered. To learn more visit the following sites:
Application Fee Waivers
WHO ACCEPTS FEE WAIVERS?
Most two-year colleges are free to apply to, so no fee waiver is needed. Many four-year colleges will accept the ACT, College Board, and/or NACAC fee waiver for students who meet the criteria (more information on that below). For these colleges, many will list fee waiver as a payment option on the admissions application. Check with your school counselor to see if the college(s) you plan to apply to charge a fee and, if so, whether they accept fee waivers from eligible students.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE?
Typically, fee waivers are available to students for whom the college application fees would create a financial burden or hardship. Students who were eligible for fee waivers to college entrance exams, such as the SAT or ACT, are usually also eligible for college application fee waivers.
Types of Waivers
WHAT FEE WAIVERS ARE AVAILABLE?
There are three types of fee waivers typically accepted by colleges and universities, but it is important to note that not all colleges and universities will accept fee waivers. Students or school counselors should confirm with the admissions office at specific institutions to ensure fee waivers are accepted.
- ACT FEE WAIVER ACT provides a fee waiver application in their ACT User Handbook for Educators publication, link below. Students who are eligible for a fee waiver to the ACT college entrance exam are also eligible for a college application fee waiver. School counselors need only print out the number of fee waivers needed and signoff on student eligibility. Students must also sign the Request for Waiver form.
- COLLEGE BOARD FEE WAIVER states that students who have received a College Board fee waiver for the SAT or the SAT subject tests may also be eligible for up to four college application fee waivers. Students should receive their college application fee waivers at the beginning of their senior year through their SAT accounts. College Board fee waivers will no longer require school counselor approval. More information on the College Board fee waiver can be found here. The College Board also provides additional information including a link to which colleges accept the College Board application fee waiver here: www.sat.org/fee-waivers
- NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR COLLEGE ADMISSION COUNSELING (NACAC) FEE WAIVER may be downloaded from NACAC’s website, provided below. Students must complete their portion of the fee waiver request and a school counselor or TRIO representative must verify that a student is eligible to use the form (a list of eligibility requirements are provided on the NACAC website and on the fee waiver request – students must meet only one of the requirements to be eligible). NACAC recommends that students receive no more than four fee waivers for the college application process. Additional information on the NACAC fee waiver can be found on their website.
Grants and FAFSA
At most colleges and universities, the only application needed annually to be considered for federal, state, and institutional aid is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). However, eligibility for a grant program does not guarantee you will receive an award. Applicants are considered based on the date of their application while considering the FAFSA- determined Expected Family Contributions (EFC). The earliest applicants with a completed award file have the best opportunity to be considered for available grant funding. Seniors can complete the FAFSA beginning October 1st of their senior year. As you continue your educational pursuits, we would encourage you to apply early every year and make sure you complete any requests made for additional information so your awards can be finalized. The Texas FAFSA deadline is March 1.
FAFSA Resources TASFA Resources
For purposes of applying for federal aid, view the difference between a dependent student and an independent student?
U.S. Government Resources
Official government websites designed for students and families.
Income-Based Repayment Plan for Federal Loans
IBR Info (More information about Income-Based Repayment)
Federal Education Grant Program
Federal Pell Grant
Texas Grant Program
Expertise.com (Student Loan Debt and understanding your options)
The Simple Dollar (Student Loan Consolidation)
Scholarships are generally awarded by colleges, universities or other foundations that can be applied toward student educational needs. Often awarded based on merits or achievements, scholarships do not have to be reimbursed.
BEWARE OF SCHOLARSHIP SCAMS
Scams often surface whenever a process seems complicated or confusing. Students and parents too frequently become targets for scholarship companies that guarantee scholarships or help in applying for federal financial aid. These three articles provide accurate and reliable information about the financial aid process:
"Can You Spot a Scholarship Scam?"
"Where the Scholarships Are"
"How to Apply for a Scholarship"
Start here to search for Scholarships:
1. www.collegeguidanceconsultants.com (email your counselor for the username and password.)
2. www.tuitionfundingsources.com (is a NEW and GREAT resource through Wells Fargo)
Additional Web Sites for Scholarship Information
Note: These pages will open in a new window. NISD staff are not responsible for the content on these Web sites.
FastWEB- Search service for financial aid and scholarships
Schoolsoup - Search service for financial aid and scholarships
College Board - Scholarship Search
- High Five Scholarship
- OnlineColleges.net - Scholarships
Specific Scholarships and Resources
Here are some specific scholarships to target.
Higher education funds available to ROTC students and current military dependents.
Financial Aid for Military Careers
What All Seniors MUST Know About FAFSA, TASFA, and Opt-Out Options
Starting with the 2021-2022 school year, all high school seniors must submit a financial aid application in order to graduate. That's right, it is a State of Texas high school graduation requirement.
The good news is it one of the easiest graduation requirements you have.
Review the resourese below to help you complete this process with ease.
- FAFSA Tools [For Students Who Have a Social Security Number]
- TASFA Tools [For Students Who Do Not Have a Social Security Number]
- Opt-Out Tools [For Students Who Are Not Comleteing the FAFSA or TASFA}
GoingMerry - GoingMerry will walk you through completing the FAFSA step-by-step in an easy, explainatory way. We encourage you to use this site, however, you may go to FAFSA.gov and complete it through the federal government site.
StudentAid.Gov - The second option to submit your FAFSA is to use the federal government's site. If you choose to use this option you MUST log in to your GoingMerry account and enter your EFC (expected family contribution) to record that you have met the graduation requirement.
If you have a social security number this section does not apply to you.
If you are a Texas resident and DO NOT have a social security number you are not eligible to submit a FAFSA, but Texas still has financial aid available for you. You should complete the TASFA application and submit it directly to your college or university. The TASFA form and instructions are available to download in English and Spanish. Once you have submitted your TASFA and received your EFC (expected family contribution) you MUST log in to your GoingMerry account and enter your EFP to record that you have met this graduation requirement.
Even if you are not planning to go to college or you know that you will not be eligible for federal or state financial aid, we still encourage you to submit the FAFSA or TASFA. Colleges use this informaiton to provide access to work-study programs, grants, and college-based financial aid. In addition, we know that plans often change as graduation draws near and having a submitted form gives you a safety net in case your plans turn toward going.
If you are certain that you do not plan to attend college you may complete the opt-out form below and submit it to your counselor. Please note that this form requires your signature and your parent or guardian's signature if you are under 18 years old.
A student may opt out of the financial aid application graduation requirement if:
- a parent or guardian submits a signed form;
- the studnt is 18 years of age or older and sumits a signed form; or
- a school counselor authorizes the student to decline to complete and sumit the applicaiton for good cause.
Opt-Out Form in English (PDF)
Opt-Out Form en Espanol (PDF)
Please attach the completed Opt-Out form to THIS GOOGLE FORM.
FAFSA or TAFSA Financial Aid Requirement for Graduation
In accordance with Texas Education Code (TEC), §28.0256, beginning with students enrolled in 12th grade during the 2021-2022 school year, each student must do one of the following in order to graduate:
- Complete and submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA);
- Complete and submit a Texas Application for State Financial Aid (TASFA); or
- Submit a signed opt-out form.
*Update as of October 1, 2021: The 2022-2023 FAFSA form is now open! Visit the Federal Student Aid webpage to learn more, or to apply for aid. For more information regarding the TASFA, please visit the Texas Application for State Financial Aid webpage.
Laws and Rules
In 2019, the 86th Texas Legislature established the new requirement for Texas students to complete a financial aid application (or formally opt out) in order to graduate. The State Board of Education (SBOE) adopted rules related to the new requirement in January 2021.
House Bill (HB) 3 required the commissioner to adopt rules as necessary to implement the requirement. These rules were drafted in consultation with a statewide advisory committee and were published in October 2021.