UM’s Top Five Tips for Filling Out the FAFSA

The nation’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is a form that prospective and current college students must complete to receive federal funding for higher education from the U.S. Department of Education. The FAFSA is the kicking-off point for the majority of educational funds, including scholarships at the University of Montana.

If you are planning to attend college during the 2024-25 academic year, your FAFSA form is available now, and should be submitted by April 1, or as soon as possible after that date. Start your FAFSA today! Looking for more detailed information about the FAFSA? Visit UM FAFSA webpages for FAQs, fact vs. fiction, video tutorials, links and a checklist to prepare for filing.

To make that process a bit easier, UM financial aid staff share their top five tips for completing the FAFSA.

Tip No. 1: Secure your Federal Student Aid (FSA) login.

Before you can complete the FAFSA online, you’ll need a Federal Student Aid (FSA) account and login. Your parents will, too. Create your FSA account hereYou must create an FSA ID at least three days before you file your FAFSA. Do this first!

Tip No. 2: Learn the new process.

The federal government made significant updates to the FAFSA for the 2024-25. Check out the Federal Student Aid YouTube channel for more information on the big changes to the FAFSA that make it easier and faster to fill out. The simplified FAFSA form asks fewer questions than the old form and is easier to understand. If you have questions, there’s step-by-step help right in the form.

Tip No. 3: If you are a dependent, have a parent with you.

If you’re a dependent of your parents and intend to use your parent or guardian’s financial statements to quality for student loans, FAFSA is going to require a lot of information from them. This includes questions about the date your parents were married, their social security numbers and their birthdates. If you are not a dependent or if you’re over the age of 24, you can complete the form as an individual. 

Visit the Federal Student Aid's webpage on reporting parent information to find out who counts as your parent, what to do if you don’t live with your parents, and what to do if you don’t have access to your parents’ financial information.

Tip No. 4: Provide consent to share federal tax information.

FAFSA requires tax information from the prior-prior year, so the 2024-25 FAFSA will require tax information from 2022. But we've got great news! The new FAFSA can now import federal tax information (FTI) directly from the IRS once you and your parents provide consent.

Tip No. 5: Make sure you’ve added UM to your list of schools.

FAFSA allows for the automatic submission of up to 20 accredited institutions of higher education. Be sure one of the schools on the form is the University of Montana. UM's FAFSA school code is 002536. 

FAFSA automatically sends your information to the schools you select. Universities cannot request your FAFSA forms. Schools must be listed on your form to receive your information.

Still have FAFSA questions? We're here to help!

If you need help filling out the FAFSA, call UM's Financial Aid Office at 804-123-5678 or email

You can also schedule a free, private session with a UM Financial Education staff member by calling 406-243-2800. In-person, virtual and phone appointments are available. You can choose a 30- or 60-minute session. 

Are you a current UM student who needs help with the FAFSA? Schedule an appointment online through your Navigate account