It’s FAFSA season and you
may be wondering what type of information you’ll have to include on your form.
The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, asks multiple questions
including your name, age, school(s) of interest, and dependency status, as well
as parent and student income and asset information. Since you’ll be in college
next year, won’t you be considered an independent student? Do you even need to
provide your parent’s information since you’ll be an adult when you start
college? The answers to these questions are not simple ones, they require more
On the FAFSA, many
factors determine whether a student is considered independent or dependent. The
application asks students various questions to determine their dependency
status. Dependent students must provide their parents’ information, while independent
students do not. A series of yes or no questions asked on the FAFSA will help
students determine their classification. If a student answers yes to any of the
questions, s/he does not have to provide parental information. However, if every
question in this section is answered no, parental information will be required.
This can be confusing, so here’s a simple equation to help you remember:
- All No’s =
Dependent Student (Provide parent information)
- One Yes =
Independent Student (Don’t have to provide parent information)
What do these questions
entail? They ask for a variety of information, including college grade level, age,
military status, if you support dependents, if you’re at risk of being homeless,
and many more. For additional information about the FAFSA, check out the tools
available at StartWithFAFSA.org
and UCanGo2.org, which offer a Dependency Status Questionnaire and a variety of articles, publications and videos to
assist you with the FAFSA.
If you have questions
regarding your dependency status or any items on the FAFSA, feel free to
contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 800-433-3243 or your
financial aid office
For a few years, people submitting their Free Application
for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) have had a valuable time-saving resource at
their fingertips. It’s called the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT). By using the
DRT that’s available in the electronic FAFSA, students can request an automatic
transfer of the data from their tax returns. This means less people will have
to supply proof of income to their financial aid offices, because the
information is transmitted straight from the IRS. When using the DRT, FAFSA
filers will need their tax return information from two years prior to the
academic year for which they’ll need federal financial aid. For example, the
2020-21 FAFSA will require income and tax information from 2018.
Here’s some great news: Up until now, students who used the
MyStudentAid App to file their FAFSA haven’t been able to use a smart phone or
tablet to use the IRS DRT. But that’s changing! Beginning October 1, 2019,
students and parents will be able to
request their tax return information while using the MyStudentAid App.
To see if you’re eligible to use the IRS DRT, check out this
helpful publication from
Federal Student Aid. Be sure to submit your FAFSA as soon as possible after
October1; some types of aid are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Go
to FAFSA.gov to set up your FSA ID and begin
October 1! That means the 2020-2021 FAFSA is available! All students planning
to start college in the fall of 2020 can now submit their application for
federal and state financial assistance. The Free Application for Federal
Student Aid, or FAFSA, allows colleges to determine your eligibility to receive
financial aid. Financial aid, which comes in the form of grants, work-study and
student loans, can help you pay for college expenses. To start your FAFSA, here
are a few tips that will help you successfully complete the form:
- Create Your FSA ID
– If you haven’t already done so, you and your parent will need to create an
FSA ID (Federal Student Aid ID). This username and password allow you to electronically
sign the FAFSA. It will also give you access to other financial aid documents
and websites. To create your FSA ID, go to fsaid.ed.gov.
- Gather Your Documents – For the 2020-2021 FAFSA, students will need their
parents’ tax return, W-2 and other financial information for the 2018 tax year.
If the student filed a tax return in 2018, they will need the same information.
Students should also gather their Social Security card and driver’s license, if
- Use Your Official Name – When creating your FSA ID and completing the FAFSA,
you’ll need to enter your name exactly as it’s shown on your Social Security card.
No nicknames are allowed on the FAFSA. If your name has special characters
include those as well.
- Pick Your Venue
– There are two electronic options for submitting your FAFSA. You can use the
website format, FAFSA.gov,
or you can use the mobile app, myStudentAid. These are the only two official means
for submitting your application. Remember the first “F” in FAFSA stands for
Free, so you should never pay for completing your FAFSA. Using one of these two
methods will ensure that you aren’t charge for a free application.
- Watch Your Inbox
– Once you submit your FAFSA, you’ll begin to receive information about your
application status and updates from your future school’s financial aid office. Be
on the look out for these updates and follow-up with your financial aid office
if they need additional documentation.
Utilizing these five tips
can save time and make your FAFSA completion much easier. Don’t forget, you
need to complete a FAFSA each year you need funding for college.
For more information
about the FASFA, check out www.ucango2.org