How to Fill out WASFA: Step by Step Guide

By Jennie Flaming

If you are undocumented and a resident of Washington State and need money for college you need to know how to fill out the WASFA. We’ll walk through the process step by step so you can feel confident that you’re filling out WASFA correctly! The WASFA opens for the following year on October 1st, so October of your senior year is when you want to do this. If you are a US Citizen then you will need to fill out FAFSA, learn how to do that here. You can learn more about the process of applying to college as an undocumented student here.

If you’d like help with how to fill out the WASFA step by step, register for one of our FREE workshops to walk you through the whole process, offered virtually on zoom.

For undocumented Washington State resident students, you apply for financial aid from the State of Washington through filling out the WASFA. The WASFA asks for similar information about you and your parents and your income. California, Colorado, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon and Texas also provide state financial aid for undocumented students. This is changing all the time so check about the opportunities in your state before you are ready to apply to college. United We Dream has this excellent resource for what is available in your state.

IMPORTANT: if you are a US Citizen and your parents are undocumented, you WILL fill out the FAFSA. The financial aid application is based on the student, not the parent, even though most students will provide their parents information.

Step 1: Answer the Eligibility Questions

The first step in how to fill out the WASFA is to go to the WASFA website and complete the eligibility questions. If you’re not sure if you should complete FAFSA or WASFA, this is the best way to find out if you should fill out the WASFA or FAFSA. Generally, you are eligible to fill out a WASFA if:

  • You are undocumented (if you are a US Citizen or other eligible non citizen it will direct you to FAFSA instead)
  • Have been a Washington resident for at least one year prior to starting college
  • Have a high school diploma or GED

Step 2: Create your Account

When you create your account, you’ll be asked to create a password and connect your account to your email. Make sure you’re checking this email regularly!

You’ll also be asked to provide the following

  • DACA Number (only if you have it, otherwise leave blank, this is not required if you don’t have it)
  • WASFA Number (you won’t have this as a first time user, so leave blank)

Step 3: Select the Correct Year

It’s really easy to make a mistake here! You are applying for money for the NEXT school year so choose the next year and not the current one. For example, if you are in the Class of 2022, you will be completing the WASFA for the 2022-23 school year.

Step 4: Provide Student Information

As you fill out the WASFA, the green navigation menu on the left of the screen will show you where you are and there will always be a green “save and continue” button to navigate to the next page.

How to fill out the WASFA with a screenshot of the navigation bar and save and continue button
The WASFA navigation bar – at any point you can move between sections, and you can always save and continue to go to the next page

This first section is where you provide your name, gender, date of birth, driver’s license number (if you have one, if not leave it blank) and DACA number (if you don’t have DACA, leave it blank, no problem). You will also answer a question about whether or not you are married and how many people are in your household.

IMPORTANT: For the number of students in your household, most high school students will select “1”. This is because you do NOT count your parents or siblings. This question is for if you are married or have children. This can be confusing so pay special attention to that step (it says this in the application).

Screenshot of the student household number page of the WASFA.
STUDENT Household information on the WASFA (Parent household information comes later)

Step 5: Answer Washington Residency Questions

In this section you will answer questions about how long you have lived in Washington and sign an affadavit saying that if you are offered the opportunity to apply for citizenship in the future you will.

You will also include some information here about your high school.

Step 6: Answer Questions About your College Plans

In this part of filling out the WASFA, you will answer questions about your educational plans, including what degree you will be working on. If you are a high school senior, choose “first year or freshman, never attended” EVEN IF you did Running Start.

Step 7: Answer Questions to Determine if you will Provide Parents Information (you probably will)

Most high school students will provide their parents information and this series of questions (8 questions total) covers the situations where a student would not provide parents information. Those situations are

  • If you are active duty military, or a veteran
  • If you are in foster care (or have been since you were 13)
  • If you are an emancipated minor
  • If you have a legal guardian other than your parents
  • If you are homeless

After the questions there is a question that asks if you are able to provide parent information. If this is possible, this is definitely the easiest way to go when you fill out your WASFA.

Step 8: Enter your (STUDENT) income information

Important: These questions are about you, the STUDENT’s income, not your parents. If you had a job last year, enter that information here.

Most high school students do not earn enough money to be required to file taxes. If you didn’t, say “will not file” and if you did say “already completed and filed”.

Next there are a series of questions about any other income or sources of money. If you see something and you aren’t sure what it is, then you probably don’t have it so don’t worry about it (“real estate net worth” for example).

If you are receiving free or reduced lunch at school, make sure to answer YES to that question.

Important: when it discusses child support in THIS section, do not include any child support received by your parents, only if YOU receive child support for your own child (when your parents receive goes in the next section).

Step 9: Provide Parent’s Information (unless you determined in Step 7 that you won’t)

This section of filling out the WASFA asks the same series of questions as Step 8, but this time about your PARENTS. The first question is if your parents are married. This is asked to determine if one or two parents information will be provided on the WASFA.

Here, when it asks for PARENTS household size, you will include all members of your household (parents and siblings) as well as how many will be college students next year.

Next it will ask for information about your parents. If your parents do not have a social security number, use all zeros instead. Do NOT use ITIN numbers here.

If you have a single parent, it will ask for this information for one parent only.

If there’s something that you have never heard of, it probably doesn’t apply to you so don’t worry about it and move on.

Step 10: Enter the Colleges you want your WASFA sent to

In this section, you will identify all the colleges (both two year and four year) you want to receive your WASFA. Make sure to include any that you are applying to or are considering applying to. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t applied yet.

State financial aid can only be used at Washington State colleges (both public and private) so you will only enter colleges in Washington here.

Step 11: Review, Sign and Submit!

This is the last section! You can review the information you submitted and then acknowledge that you’ve entered accurate information.

On the next page you say it’s ok to sign electronically and then on the next page you confirm you have the technology to electronically sign (which you almost certainly do because you’ve made it this far!).

Screenshot of the electronic signature page of the WASFA.
The electronic signature page of the WASFA

Finally, you are ready to electronically sign. To do this, you provide your name and password and a couple other details to identify you. When you go to the next page, it will prompt you to invite your parent to sign as well the same way you did. THIS STEP IS REALLY IMPORTANT. Your WASFA will not be processed and sent to college financial aid offices until your parent signs.

Your parent MUST have an email that’s separate from yours to create an account and sign.

Congratulations! You have filled out your WASFA!

What Happens Next After I Fill out the WASFA?

After you do your part, the Washington Student Achievement Council will confirm it has been signed by you and your parent.

The information is then securely transferred to the Financial Aid Office at the colleges you requested.

Colleges that admit you will also use your WASFA information to give you a Financial Aid offer that you will receive after you are accepted. They may also ask you for some additional information so make sure to keep checking your mailbox and your email and get any requested information back to them right away.

Once you receive all your offers, you’ll be ready to make your decision and you’re off to college!

You will need to complete the WASFA every year while you are in college.