Quite simply, yes.
If you had income (earned and/or unearned) in 2019 and you are a single dependent who can be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return, you may still be required to file your own return. The amount of your 2019 income will determine whether or not you need to file. See the instructions at the beginning of the 2019 IRS 1040 form, and look for page 10, Chart B.
Now that you’ve determined whether or not you should file a tax return, let’s just say you didn’t have to file because you didn’t make enough money. If this describes your situation, it’s still very important that you save the W-2(s) you received this year. You should have received one from each employer who reported your earnings and withholding tax to the IRS.
Why is it so important that you hold on to your W-2s? Think FAFSA! The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will ask you to report your income from two years prior to the year that you’ll attend college. So, if you plan to go to college in the fall of 2020, you’ll need your 2018 income information. For the fall of 2021, you’ll need to supply the information from 2019.
Also, you’re still required to report your wage, salary and tip income even if you didn’t receive a W-2 from an employer. If you’re not sure what your income was in 2019, use the Income Estimator that’s available on your FAFSA.
Keep those W-2’s! You’ll need them when you’re applying for federal financial aid.
I could be an artist; I’d create and dream all day.
Good thing there’s a school for that,
but how am I going to pay?
Maybe I’ll be a doctor; I’ll learn to help and heal.
With years and years of studies,
tuition concerns are real.
I’d like to be an astronaut, exploring the final frontier.
I’ll have to master the STEM subjects.
Are there scholarships for engineers?
My future is full of possibilities.
Good thing I completed the FAFSA,
to help with my financial responsibilities.
I qualified for grants and work study,
thanks to federal student aid.
The application didn’t cost me a cent.
Now I can focus on grades.
If you’re looking for free up-to-the-minute guidance on federal student loans and financial aid during the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic, visit www.StudentAidPandemic.org.
Higher education can be a promising path out of poverty.
However, students who experience homelessness or an unstable home life often
have to overcome barriers to access financial aid. Some students have
difficulty applying for school and scholarships, while others are unable to
complete their secondary education. Despite these challenges, there are many
resources for students experiencing homelessness to succeed and achieve their
For students who are on track to graduate high school and
are preparing to attend college, the Free Application for
Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step they should take. When they
complete the form, they will be asked if they’re homeless, at risk of becoming
homeless or an unaccompanied youth. If they answer “yes” to being at risk of
homelessness, they won’t need to provide parental financial information. The
student will be then be labeled “independent” on the FAFSA. After the
application has been submitted, most financial aid offices will require
documentation proving that the student has been declared an unaccompanied or
It’s important to note that students should secure a reliable mailing address in order to receive financial aid and college information. This can be a family member’s or friend’s address, if needed. For additional information on filling out the FAFSA as an unaccompanied youth, click visit StudentAid.gov
Students who are unsure if they are classified as an unaccompanied youth can contact their high school counselor, their college financial aid office or the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) Higher Education Helpline at 855.446.2673. NAEHCY is a good resource for students in special circumstances to find educational and personal support in their state. Students can visit the NAEHCY website to find their state’s coordinator, learn about specific opportunities that can help them reach their goals, and access additional scholarships and academic resources. Additionally, most high schools have a homeless liaison that will work directly with students. If you aren’t sure who your district’s homeless liaison is, ask a teacher or counselor to help.
Often, a student’s basic needs should be met before they can
pursue higher education. Programs like Pivot in Oklahoma City provide services
that help young people find security by giving them access to basic necessities
and housing solutions. Pivot also provides education and job assistance,
prevention and intervention, and therapeutic care. For more information on
Pivot’s resources visit www.pivotok.org.
If you’ve taken a look at the Financial Aid Offer from your college of choice, you may have been surprised by the cost of room and board for one year of school. Your ‘room and board’ estimate covers two necessities that can’t be overlooked—a roof over your head and the food you’ll need to keep you going. Consider these tips to keep room and board costs low.
Where to live
- Have you considered how much money you could
save by living at home for another year or two? Nearby community colleges
usually charge lower tuition, and they offer the same general education courses
required at four-year universities. Add in your savings on room and board, and
you’ve got a significantly lower total cost of attendance.
- Living on campus? Consider this: a roommate can
reduce the cost of room and board quite a bit.
- Living off campus? As a general rule, you’ll
find that apartments and houses located close to the campus will charge higher
rent than those located farther away. Consider having two or three roommates if
you have the space.
Where to eat
- Colleges and universities offer various meal
plans to their students, and meal plans are often required for those who live
on campus. Consider trying one of the less expensive plans (less meals every
week) and plan to prepare more meals in your dorm room, apartment, or
off-campus rental. Maybe your roommate would agree to split the cost of
non-perishable bulk foods that you both use frequently. Clip coupons for even
- Limit eating out. Consider asking friends over
for a potluck or ask them to bring sharable snacks.
Other ways to manage college expenses
- Check out all available options for financial
aid. Apply for scholarships every semester, not just your freshman year. New
options are added each year and qualifications change. Don’t miss out on free
money that you may be qualified to receive.
- Is it absolutely necessary for you to have a car
on campus? Consider riding your bike and using public transportation. Larger
schools often have free or low-cost transit systems.
- Graduate on time to reduce the total cost of
completing your program.
- Earn some money. Check on work-study jobs or
find a part-time job in town.
- Limit use of credit cards to true emergencies. You’ll
likely spend less if you use cash, and you won’t risk paying interest on your
For more ideas on cutting the costs of college, be sure to read OKMM’s
money management article, Getting Through College on Less.
you submitted your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you listed
one or more college codes that represent the schools that interest you. Once your FAFSA’s been processed, you may begin
to receive financial aid offers from these schools sent electronically or via
the US Postal Service. It’s important to read each offer carefully, as they
describe the types and amounts of financial aid a college or career technology
center can provide to help you pay for one year of higher education.
your financial aid offer you’ll see:
total Cost of Attendance (COA) – An estimate of what it costs to go to that
school for one year
Family Contribution (EFC) – A number calculated from your FAFSA that’s used by
the school to determine how much financial aid you’re eligible to receive (most
likely not the amount you’ll be expected to pay)
and amounts of aid the school can offer you; this list is often called a ‘financial
aid package’. Your offer may consist of:
– aid based on financial need that typically doesn’t have to be repaid
– gift aid awarded to you by colleges, state agencies, foundations, tribal and
work-study – an opportunity for you to work on or off campus to earn money for
student loans – funds awarded based on financial eligibility that must be
repaid, with interest
PLUS loan – a loan your parent(s) may borrow to help you pay for college; your
parent(s) are expected to repay the loan (credit check required)
subtract all of the financial aid shown on the offer from your Cost of Attendance.
This will determine your estimated Net Cost, which is the out-of-pocket amount
you’ll be expected to pay. If you should end up with a negative amount, the Net
Cost would be zero.
options are available to help you cover the Net Cost?
scholarships – You don’t have to be a straight A student or a sports star to
qualify for many different kinds of scholarships. OKcollegestart.org and UCanGo2.org are great places to
begin your scholarship search.
529 College Savings Plan – visit ok4saving.org for more information
benefits – visit military.com/education/gi-bill to learn more
monthly payment plan approved by your school
don’t have to accept all financial aid offered to you, especially when it comes
to borrowing student loans. Using a monthly payment plan while you’re in
college can be less expensive than a monthly loan payment with added interest
after you’ve graduated. If you’re unable to make a monthly payment to the
school, consider making smaller monthly interest payments on any unsubsidized
student loan(s). This will decrease your overall student loan debt once you
graduate or leave school.
attention to deadlines. Accept or decline your financial aid offer before the
you receive more than one financial aid offer, you may want to determine what
your net cost would be at each college. Ultimately, you’ll want to choose the
school that’s the best fit for you.
add more school codes to your FAFSA, log in as a returning user at studentaid.gov.
receive your financial aid offer from a college you may be interested in
attending, it’s quite possible that one or more student loans will be included
in the offer. If you need a student loan(s) to help cover the costs of college,
you’ll want to borrow smart from the very start of your college experience to
minimize your debt after graduation. Here are some things you need to know as
you consider student loans.
- Use ‘free money’ first. Take advantage of all the gift aid you’re
offered—grants and scholarships—before deciding how much you’ll need to borrow.
- You don’t have to accept student loans. You can decline any amount of
financial aid that is offered to you. If you must borrow to pay college costs,
only borrow what you’ll need to get you through one year of college. Review
your finances each semester, and keep that commitment to borrow only what you
need to cover school expenses.
- Do your research. Some experts recommend that your monthly
loan payment should be no more than 8-10% of the monthly income you expect to
earn during the first year after graduation. To estimate your loan payments,
try the Loan Calculator found at ReadySetRepay.org.
- Subsidized = less expensive. Interest won’t be added to a subsidized
federal student loan balance until after you graduate, withdraw or drop your
class load to less than half-time status.
- Make interest payments. Students who borrow federal unsubsidized
loans are responsible for all interest on the loan as soon as their
institutions receive the first disbursement. Student loan interest payments are
generally affordable, even on a college student’s budget. If possible, keep the
interest paid down while you’re in school and during your grace period. To help
you think it through, see how two students took different paths to repay their
- Keep in touch with your lender(s) and
loan servicer(s). Always
make sure you let them know your current address, and contact them if you’re
having trouble making your payments. You can find contact information for your
lenders/servicers at StudentAid.gov under Manage
Loans. Be sure to have
your FSA ID handy—it’s the username and password you created when you submitted
your FAFSA. You’ll need it to access your federal student loan information.
- Stay informed. Find more information and FAQs at ReadySetRepay.org and StudentAid.gov.
Happy Financial Aid
Awareness Month! February is the time to learn how you can fund your education
with various financial aid options. In order to receive federal financial aid,
you must submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Once your
FAFSA has been submitted, your school’s financial aid office will notify you of
your aid eligibility. Before you decide which options you’ll accept, take time
to learn about the different kinds of aid that are available to you. Since they’re
all beneficial, here’s an overview of each type of financial aid.
- Scholarships. Potentially the most significant type of financial aid available is a scholarship. It’s free money you can earn from your own hard work, financial need, merit, family history, skills, hobbies or athletics. The more scholarship applications you complete, the more likely you are to win an award. While you don’t have to submit a FAFSA to apply for a scholarship, some programs may request that you do. Scholarship applications could ask you to write an essay, submit a video, take a photograph or complete a service project. To make sure your application matches the scholarship requirements, read all directions carefully before you start the process. If you’re not sure where to look for scholarships, UCanGo2.org and OKcollegestart.org are great places to start your search. Remember that scholarships can be the additional assistance you need to help you reach your educational goals.
- Grants. Sometimes referred to as free money since they usually don’t have to be repaid, grants are given to those who demonstrate financial need. A common type of grant is the Pell Grant. The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, or FSEOG, is not as common since it is only given to students who show extreme financial need. For students interested in becoming teachers, there’s the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant, or TEACH Grant. Students interested in the TEACH Grant should carefully read all guidelines. If the grant requirements are not met, the money could turn into a loan that must be repaid with interest. Additionally, there’s the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant for those who’ve lost a parent or guardian due to military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after 9/11. As with any type of financial aid, be sure to speak with your financial office if you have questions about grants.
- Work-study. Also called earned aid, work-study allows students to work and earn money for college expenses while they’re in school. Work-study positions are part-time jobs that can be on or off campus. The supervisors over these positions tend to recognize that school is a priority and are usually mindful of your class schedule. Take advantage of these positions because they can give you work experience and time to focus on your academic responsibilities. Each school will have different ways to apply for a work-study job, so talk with your school to learn more about the application process.
- Student Loans. While this type of aid is borrowed money that must be repaid with interest, student loans can help you bridge the gap between grants and scholarships. When it comes to borrowed money, it’s important that you borrow only the amount you need to pay school expenses! Federal loans can be beneficial due to their fixed interest rates (it will not change over time) and flexible repayment options. One type of federal student loan is the Direct Subsidized loan. This aid is for undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need. The government will pay the accruing interest on a subsidized loan while the student is enrolled in school at least half-time. Another federal loan, the Direct Unsubsidized student loan, is for students who do not show financial need. With this loan, the interest will always be accruing on the loan and students will be responsible for paying the interest. For those who need extra financial assistance there’s the Direct Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students or the Direct PLUS loan. Parents of dependent undergraduate students can apply for the PLUS loan to help cover additional college expenses for their child. In order to receive a Direct PLUS loan, parents must complete the loan application and meet certain credit requirements. Students will have six months from the time they graduate, drop below half-time enrollment or leave school to start repaying Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans. Those who take out a PLUS loan will have to start repayment once funds have been disbursed.
that you know a little more about financial aid, use this month to decide which
options could be right for you. For more financial aid information, go to StudentAid.gov.
here you are, right in the middle of the academic year. How are things going so
far? Do you have enough financial aid to pay for your spring semester in
fall semester can often reveal expenses you didn’t anticipate when you accepted
your financial aid offer at the beginning of the school year. If your budget’s
being stretched to the limit, remember to explore opportunities for
scholarships. Believe it or not, new scholarships can pop up in the spring semester,
too! Here are some places to look:
financial aid office. There may be new scholarships available, or
there may be some funds left over from a scholarship given to a student who
didn’t return for the spring semester. If you’re a high school student, check
in with your counselor and take advantage of the resources he/she has to offer.
college’s website. Institutional scholarships are often
available at various times throughout the year. It’s a good idea to check the
scholarship listings on your school’s website every week, or at least every two
the possibilities! Where do you start? Here are a few suggestions:
- UCanGo2.org/Scholarships –
Learn about the Scholarship of the Week, then search by month and scroll down to
make sure you don’t miss any application deadlines. You’ll also find a table
full of additional scholarship opportunities for each month.
- Search for brand names of restaurants, chain
stores and food producers. Search the websites of health care systems and
various law firms. Your search engine could become your best friend.
list of additional scholarship websites, see UCanGo2’s publication called Are
You Looking for Money?