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FAFSA Tips - Financial Aid - Cabrillo College


Tips for completing the FAFSA

The easiest and fastest way to apply for federal and state aid is by using FAFSA on the Web at It is available in both Spanish and English and you can apply around the clock, seven days a week, starting on January 1st of each year.


  1. File online. If you need help filing online contact our office or come to a workshop.
  2. Use your legal name as it appears on your Social Security card. Nicknames will cause delays.
  3. Apply for a PIN so you can sign the FAFSA electronically. Dependent students can have a parent apply for a PIN. The PIN can also be used to make corrections to your FAFSA. For more information on PINs see "What is a PIN and why have one?" section below..
  4. Before starting, read the "Before Beginning a FAFSA" steps at which lists what information is needed.
  5. Have all necessary documents on hand when completing the FAFSA such as your federal tax returns.
  6. Read the questions carefully.
  7. Do not leave any blank fields. Use a zero if the question does not apply to you.
  8. Review the completed FAFSA thoroughly before submitting it and keep a printout for your records.
  9. Remember to sign the FAFSA and obtain all other required signatures. You cannot receive aid without the required signature(s).
  10. Meet deadlines! Even if you have not filed your tax return, use estimates based on your W2's and make corrections to your FAFSA online once you have filed your taxes.
  11. Dependent students: if the parent responsible for completing the FAFSA has remarried, income and asset information for the new spouse must be reported.
  12. If you will have a child born before or during the award year (Fall through Summer sessions) and will be your legal dependent, the child should be counted as a member of the household.
  13. Be sure to report any money received or paid on your behalf.
  14. Do not include grant or scholarship money if you did not report them to the IRS.
  15. If you can provide an e-mail address, you will get a message confirming that your FAFSA on the Web was received.
  16. Avoid peak hours; you will get a faster response, especially after 8 p.m.
  17. To meet the deadline for Cal Grants, you must submit your FAFSA by the March 2 priority deadline for each year, but you are strongly encouraged not to wait until the last minute.

If you do not have access to a computer, you can attend a workshop or use a computer on campus to file your FAFSA.

Important: The FAFSA application is submitted to the Federal Processor. The Cabrillo Financial Aid office does not process your FAFSA application.

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What is a PIN and why have one?

The Personal Identification Number (PIN) is the code used by the Dept. of Education to identify you online.
You do not need a PIN to complete a FAFSA online but there are advantages to having one.

A PIN allows you to:

  • Electronically sign your FAFSA to speed up the process.
  • Check the status of your electronic FAFSA.
  • Make corrections to your FAFSA online.
  • Use other Department of Education websites (i.e. loan counseling)

Keep your PIN in a private place; it allows you (or someone else if they have access to your PIN) to electronically sign federal documents and access confidential information.

If you completed a FAFSA last year, you may automatically have a PIN.

You can check on your PIN status or apply for a new PIN at

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