How to Apply for a FAFSA Pin

Applying for a FAFSA PIN is a relatively straightforward process. The process does not take long at all, but is a necessary component for filing an electronic FAFSA application.

The PIN was developed when the FAFSA application was moved to a web-based process. With the electronic format the PIN serves much like any other kind of PIN because it acts as an extra layer of security so students can interact on the FAFSA website.

In terms of security the PIN is used for three primary purposes. It is needed to access the application, file and submit the FAFSA, and thirdly, gives entry to make adjustments after the application has been filed.

Here is how you can get a FAFSA PIN:

Step 1: Establish Working E-mail

If you don’t have a working e-mail account, it will be important to open one. Much communication with the FAFSA is done through e-mail and your PIN is a part of this process. You can obtain a free account from Google, Yahoo! AOL, or Hotmail.

You don’t need to have an e-mail to file the initial PIN, but it is helpful to have one since you will need an e-mail anyway when you file the FAFSA. In addition if you ever lose your PIN, you can have it e-mailed to you.

Step 2: Apply for a PIN

Any student who wishes to file the FAFSA application needs a PIN. In order to apply for a PIN several specific questions are asked and the student must provide this information. The application for a PIN is on the government FAFSA website, www.fafsa.ed.gov.

Once you get to this site navigate to the ‘Apply for a PIN’ section. At this point you will need to share information. The information requested is a social security number, last name, first name, middle initial, and date of birth.

The next segment asks for a full home address, (optional) e-mail address, security question (called a “challenge question”), and an opportunity to create your own PIN. If you do not create your own PIN number, one will be automatically generated for you.

Step 3: Submit PIN Application

After filling out the required information, click ‘next’ and then choose whether you want the PIN e-mailed or mailed via regular mail. Submit application by clicking the button.

Step 4: Wait for PIN

If you opted to get the PIN via e-mail it will likely come quicker than by regular USPS mail. Receiving a PIN number typically takes a few days because information is verified with the Social Security Administration (About.com). 

Once you receive the PIN it is important to safeguard it carefully. This number gives access to much sensitive information and you want to be vigilant with keeping it safe. Parents of students who are under 23 and have to include parental tax information should also apply for a PIN.

Students cannot file the online FAFSA application without a PIN. While it is important to file for a PIN, it is also of value to understand why the PIN is needed to file for student grants or loans. Follow the above steps and you should have your PIN anywhere from a couple of days to approximately a week, although sometimes may take up to 10 days.