Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) can be a daunting process. After all, it is the single most important document for obtaining financial aid, and is used by the U.S. Department of Education, states, and colleges themselves.
Every prospective student wants to make sure it is filled out perfectly — so what happens when you don’t have a piece of information the FAFSA requests?
One example is a driver’s license. The FAFSA will require some form of identification to verify that you are who you say you are. The easiest way to do this is through your driver’s license, which is why the FAFSA requests your driver’s license number and state. But if you don’t have one, there is no need to panic.
Keep reading to learn more about your driver’s license (or lack thereof) and the FAFSA.
Do I Need to Have a Driver’s License in Order to Complete the FAFSA?
Picture this: You’re working your way through the FAFSA, feeling great because you planned ahead and got all of your information assembled and ready to go. All of a sudden, you come to a question that you weren’t prepared for — driver’s license number and state of issuance. You don’t have a driver’s license.
What do you do?
Don’t panic. You do not need a driver’s license in order to complete the FAFSA. The U.S. Department of Education simply needs to verify your identity, and a driver’s license is the most common way of doing so. Any other state-issued form of identification will also be accepted. For example, a state-issued identification card will work just as well.
One word of warning: If you have both a state-issued ID and a driver’s license, do not submit both numbers on the application. The FAFSA will cross-check the number with a database to verify your name and address. Putting in both numbers can create problems. If you have both forms of identification, only input one.
Does My Driving Record Affect My FAFSA Eligibility?
The U.S. Department of Education does not care if you have a speeding ticket (or two) on your driving history. The only reason they are requesting your driver’s license number is to verify that you are who you say you are. They will not run a check of your driving record or dig into your history to find out how many times you failed your driving test.
Instead, the Department of Education will simply run the number through a database. It will be used to confirm the name and address you submitted in the FAFSA. If everything matches, you’re all set.
What If I Don’t Have a License or a State-Issued ID?
If you don’t have a driver’s license or a state-issued form of identification, don’t worry — it is a relatively simple process to get an identification card. The first step is to get online and check your state’s website. It should have a resource for state identification cards. These are often available through your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
You will likely need to provide proof of your current address in order to obtain a state identification card. If you have not yet started the FAFSA, prepare ahead by getting a state ID card as soon as possible. That way, your application process will be more smooth and straightforward.
While having a driver’s license will make filing the FAFSA easier, other forms of identification are acceptable. The Department of Education simply needs to verify your identify through a government ID. If you don’t have a license, obtain a state-issued identification — and then get to work on the rest of your FAFSA.