The Question-By-Question FAFSA Guide

College student filing her FAFSA on her phone and laptop.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid—or FAFSA—is a form that determines a student’s financial need level, and opens the opportunity for federal scholarships, grants, work study programs, and student loans. Though not strictly mandatory, the FAFSA is still a MUST for students in terms of paying for college.

Whether your goal is to pay for college, avoid crushing student loan debt, or both, the FAFSA should be your very first step. Many students avoid filing the FAFSA because they (often wrongly) believe they won’t qualify for any federal aid. Others simply aren’t aware of the benefits the FAFSA can provide.

If there’s one piece of college financial advice you should listen to, it’s this:

ALWAYS FILE THE FAFSA.

You don’t want to miss out on free aid that can help ease any financial burdens. Additionally, many outside scholarships require the student to have filed the FAFSA, so the form counts for so much more than just federal aid. The full version of the FAFSA mobile app has now been launched, making the application process at its most efficient and accessible.

The Question-by-Question FAFSA Guide

With all that said, the FAFSA can be a bit intimidating for first-time filers. That’s why we at College Raptor have created this helpful question-by-question FAFSA guide. We’ll take you through each and every question on the form, explain what it’s asking for, why it’s important to answer, and how to answer it–plus we’ll throw in some handy tips along the way.

Questions 1–10: Personal Information

 

Questions 1-10 collect personal identification information such as your name, Social Security number, contact details and other information that is necessary to determine your basic eligibility for federal and other types of student aid.

Although these questions seem fairly simple and straightforward, it is crucial that you take your time and make sure you are entering the information correctly into each field. One small mistake could affect your eligibility for institutional aid as every college will already have your information on record from your application. If the information on the FAFSA does not match the details on your application, the college may not receive your FAFSA.

3 tips for filling out this section:

Tip 1: Keep your Social Security card with you when answering questions 1-10.

Tip 2: Be sure to enter your details exactly as they appear on your Social Security card.

Tip 3: Double check that you’ve entered everything accurately.

Question 1: Your last name

In this field, you need to enter your proper last name exactly as it appears on your Social Security card. Do not enter your nickname or any other variation of your last name.

When entering the information in this field, you can only use letters (A-Z), numbers (0-9), periods (.), dashes (-), apostrophes (‘), or blanks (spaces). You cannot enter any other characters.

If your last name is followed by a suffix such as Jr. or III, leave one blank space between your last name and the suffix.

Question 2: Your first name

This refers to your proper first name, exactly as it appears on your Social Security card. Do not enter your nickname or any other variation of your first name.

When entering the information in this field, you are allowed to use only letters (A-Z), numbers (0-9), periods (.), dashes (-), apostrophes (‘), or blanks (spaces).

Question 3: Your middle initial

In this field, you need to enter your middle initial, which should be the same as the middle initial that appears on your Social Security card. In this field, you can only use letters (A-Z) or blanks (spaces).

Question 4: Your permanent mailing address

Enter your street name, street number, and (if applicable) apartment number here. These details should regard your permanent mailing address only. Do not enter details of any temporary address that you may be using for that school year or the general address of your school.

If your address does not fit into the space provided, use accepted mailing address abbreviations, such as APT for apartment or AVE for the avenue.  

When entering the information in this field, you can only use letters (A-Z), numbers (0-9), commas (,), periods (.), at symbols (@), slashes (/), dashes (-), number symbols (#), apostrophes (‘), percent symbols (%), blanks (spaces) and ampersands (&). No other characters are allowed.

If you live outside the United States, you can find detailed instructions on how to enter your address at fafsa.ed.gov/help/ffdef11.html.

Question 5: Your city

In this field, you need to enter the city of your permanent mailing address. This has to be the city of your permanent mailing address and not of any temporary mailing address you may be using.

When entering information in this field, you can only use letters (A-Z), numbers (0-9), commas (,), periods (.), at symbols (@), slashes (/), dashes (-), number symbols (#), apostrophes (‘), percent symbols (%), blanks (spaces), and ampersands (&). No other characters are allowed.

If you live outside the United States, you can find detailed instructions on how to enter your address at fafsa.ed.gov/help/ffdef11.html.

Question 6: Your state

Select the state of your permanent mailing address.

For help with entering foreign addresses, see fafsa.ed.gov/help/ffdef11.html.

Question 7: Your ZIP code

Enter the ZIP code for your permanent mailing address here. If your permanent address is in the Canadian Provinces, Mexico or any other country outside the United States, enter 00000 for the ZIP code.

Question 8: Your Social Security Number

Having a Social Security Number is mandatory to be considered for Federal Student Aid. In this field, enter the Social Security Number (SSN) that is printed on your Social Security card. Enter your SSN without any dashes or spaces. 

Your Social Security Number gets filled automatically on your FAFSA based on the FSA ID or SSN that you’ve entered on the “Login” page. If you enter your SSN incorrectly, it cannot be changed. If you make a mistake and the SSN numbers do not match, you will have to start a brand new FAFSA.

Special instructions for citizens of the Freely Associated States

If you do not have a Social Security Number or you are a citizen of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, or Palau, otherwise known as the Freely Associated States, you must enter 666 in the first 3 digits of the SSN field and leave the remaining 6 positions blank. The last 6 digits of the Social Security Number will be assigned to you when your application is processed.

Once you receive this new SSN, you must save the number and continue using the same number on every subsequent FAFSA.  

Question 9: Your date of birth

Your date of birth must be entered in “mmddyyyy” format. For example, if your birthday is April 12, 1999, enter 04121999. This date must match the date of birth that appears on your Social Security card

Question 10: Your telephone number

When filling in your telephone number, first enter the area code, then enter your phone number without any dashes or parentheses. This is what it should look like: 2025648787.

Make it easy for the FAFSA representatives to contact you by providing details of your most accessible phone number, whether it is your cell phone number or your home landline number.

Questions 11–12: Identification

 

Questions 11-12 collects information about your driver’s license if you have one. This information is not necessary for your application to be considered complete, as not all students may have a current license when they fill out  FAFSA. Details about your driver’s license are collected as additional evidence of your identity for security purposes. Your driving record will not actually be reviewed by the Department of Education or any other authorities.

Question 11: Your driver’s license number

Here you may enter either your driver’s license number or the number on your identification card. When entering this information use only letters (A-Z), Numbers (0-9), asterisks (*), dashes (-), or blank spaces. You cannot enter an asterisk in the first position, and the answer cannot contain all asterisks.

Although you have the option of entering the number from your state-issued identification card in this field, it is advisable to NOT do so as it may cause a mismatch when your application is being processed.

Question 12: Your driver’s license state

Select the state that issued your driver’s license or identification card.

If your license was issued by a foreign country, select Foreign Country.

Question 13: Your e-mail address

Question 13: E-mail

If you provide your e-mail address, the Department of Education will use it to communicate with you electronically and to notify you by e-mail when your FAFSA has been processed. Your e-mail address will also be shared with your state and the colleges listed on your FAFSA so they can keep you updated on all matters related to your FAFSA.

If you have multiple email addresses, be sure to provide the email address that you check most often.

Leave this field blank if you do not have an e-mail address.

Questions 14–15: Citizenship Status

 

Questions 14–15 collect information about your citizenship status. This information helps determine if you meet the citizenship criteria for receiving Federal financial aid. U.S. citizens are automatically eligible, and so are U.S. nationals (natives of American Samoa or Swain’s Island), and select eligible non-citizens.

Question 14: Are you a U.S. citizen?

Select the option that indicates your citizenship status.

Select ‘U.S. citizen’ if you are a United States citizen or the United States national.

Select Eligible non-citizen if you are:

  • A U.S. permanent resident, with a Permanent Resident Card (I-551)
  • A conditional permanent resident with a Conditional Green Card (I-551C)

A Canadian-born Native American under terms of the Jay Treaty Select “Neither citizen nor eligible non-citizen” if you are in the U.S. and have:

  • Been granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
  • A F1 or F2 student visa
  • A J1 or J2 exchange visitor visa
  • A G series visa (pertaining to international organizations)

Other categories not included under U.S. citizen and eligible noncitizen

  • A resident of the Republic of Palau (PW), the Republic of the Marshall Islands (MH), or the Federated States of Micronesia (FM)
  • Other eligible non-citizen with an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from the Department of Homeland Security showing any one of these designations: “Asylum Granted,” “Refugee,” T-Visa holder (T-1, T-2, T-3, etc.), “Parolee” (I-94 confirms that you were paroled for a minimum of one year and status has not expired), or “Cuban-Haitian Entrant”
  • The holder of a valid certification or eligibility letter from the Department of Health and Human Services showing a designation of “Victim of human trafficking”

Question 15: Your Alien Registration Number

If applicable, enter your 8- or 9-digit Alien Registration Number. If your Alien Registration Number is only 8 digits, type a zero before entering your Alien Registration Number. Do not enter the “A” before the number.

You do not need to answer this question if you are a citizen of the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, or the Marshall Islands. 

Questions 16–17: Marital Status

 

Questions 16-17 ask about your marital status. This is required in order to determine whether or not you need to provide your spouse’s information along with your own throughout the application. If you are married and file separate federal tax returns, you will have to report all relevant information about your spouse, including your spouse’s income. You do not need to provide any information about your spouse in the FAFSA if you are separated, divorced, or widowed.   

Question 16: What is your marital status?

From the choices provided, select the answer that describes your marital status as of the day you submit your FAFSA. If your marital status has changed or will change since the time the application was initially submitted, you must inform your college’s financial aid office.

For FAFSA purposes, a couple is considered married if they live as a married couple but are separated by physical distance or have separate households.

For FAFSA purposes, a married couple is considered separated if:

  • The couple is considered legally separated by their state of residence
  • The couple is legally married but has chosen to live separate lives, including living in separate households, as though they were not married

If you and your spouse are separated but living together, select “I am married/remarried”. Do not select “I am separated.”

If you are living together but not legally married, do not choose ‘married or remarried’ unless your state of legal residence recognizes a live-in relationship as a common law marriage.

Question 17: Month and year you were married, separated, divorced, or widowed

  • If you are legally married as of the day you are filling the FAFSA, enter the date on which you married or remarried.
  • If you are currently separated, enter the date you became separated.
  • If you are currently divorced, enter the date you separated or divorced, whichever is earlier.
  • If you are currently widowed, enter the date you became widowed.

When filling in these details, enter two numbers for the month and four numbers for the year. Do not include a slash (/) to separate the month and the year.

For one-digit months (January to September), enter a zero in front of the number. For example, if you were married in May 2008, enter 052008.

Questions 18–20: Residency

 

Questions 18–20 collect information about your permanent home/mailing address. This helps the Department of Education and State agencies determine your potential eligibility for state financial aid. The information you enter in this section remains on your file and all correspondence will be sent to this mailing address while you are in school.

Question 18: What is your state of legal residence?

From the options provided, select your current state or country of legal residence.

If your legal residence is in a foreign country select ‘Foreign Country’.

Your answer should indicate the residency or domicile of your true, fixed, and permanent home. If you moved into a state for the sole purpose of attending a school in that particular state, that state is not considered as your state of legal residence.

Every state determines legal residency differently. If you have any doubts, contact your college’s financial aid office, or your high school counselor, for help with determining your state of legal residence.

Question 19: Did you become a legal resident of your state before January 1, 2014?

Select ‘Yes’ if you became a legal resident of the state you entered in question 18 before January 1, 2015.

Select ‘No’ if you became a legal resident of the state you entered in question 18 on or after January 1, 2015.

Question 20: Month and year you became a legal resident

This question is relevant only if you answered ‘No’ to question 19, which indicated that you were not a legal resident of the state before January 1, 2015. If this pertains to you, you need to enter the month and year that you became a legal resident of that state.

When entering these details, enter 2 digits for the month and 4 digits for the year. For one-digit months (January to September), enter a zero in front of the number. For example, June 2016 must be entered as 062016. This date cannot be later than the current date.

Question 21: Gender

 

This information is required because your gender is used to determine if you are legally required to register with the Selective Service System. This is a system used in the U.S. to draft individuals of a certain age into armed service. Although the U.S. currently has no draft, all males are required by law to register with the Selective Service when they reach the age of eighteen.

Question 21: Are you male or female?

You must answer “Male” or “Female” with reference to your gender assignment at birth.

Question 22: Selective Service

 

Only students who selected ‘Male’ in the previous question need to answer question 22. Female students seeking Federal financial aid are not required to register for Selective Service and are not required to answer this question.

Question 22: Are you registered with the Selective Service?

If you are a male student aged 18-25 and are not already registered with the Selective Service System, select ‘Register Me’ and the Selective Service System will register you. This is needed because the Department of Education requires that all male students (citizens and immigrants) be registered with the Selective Service System in order to receive federal student aid.

If you are over 25 years of age, getting registered with the Selective Service System is not mandatory but you must submit documentation showing why you could not register if you were a citizen between the age of 18 and 25.  

If you believe that you are exempted from registering with the Selective Service System, you should call the Selective Service System office at 1-847-688-6888 to confirm this or visit their website at www.sss.gov.

Question 23: Drug Convictions

 

Question 23 collects information about your drug convictions if any. Although prior drug convictions may make you ineligible for Federal financial aid, there are certain conditions where you could still be eligible for state and other student aid.

Question 23: Have you been convicted for the possession or sale of illegal drugs for an offense that occurred while you were receiving federal student aid, whether in the form of loans, grants, and/or work-study?

Select No if:

  • You have never received federal student aid.
  • You have never been convicted for possessing or selling illegal drugs.
  • You were convicted but the conviction was not a state or federal offense.
  • You were convicted but the conviction occurred before you were 18 years of age and you were not tried as an adult.
  • You were convicted but the conviction was removed from your record.
  • The offense that led to your conviction did not occur during a period of enrollment for which you were receiving any type of federal student aid (loans, work-study, or grants).

Past convictions do not automatically make you ineligible for federal student aid.  When you select ‘Yes’, additional questions will automatically display to help you determine your eligibility.

Even if you are not eligible for federal student aid, you should complete and submit your FAFSA because you may still be eligible for state or school financial aid. Additionally, some outside scholarships may require you to have filed the FAFSA.

For more information or clarifications about drug-related convictions, call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243).

Questions 24–25: Parents’ Education

 

Questions 24 and 25 collect information about your parents’ highest level of education. This information is necessary because some states and colleges offer student aid based on the level of schooling your parents completed. Your answer will help determine your potential eligibility for State grants.

Questions 24 and 25: Highest level of education your parent completed

From the choices provided, select the option that is most relevant to your parent’s highest level of education completed.

This question is used only to determine your eligibility for State scholarships. It does not affect your Federal student aid eligibility.

For this question, parent means your birth or adoptive parent. Do not enter education details about a stepparent, foster parent, or legal guardian.

Questions 26–28: Student Education Level

 

Questions 26–28 collects information about the level of education you’ve completed before applying to an institute of higher learning. You have to choose one option from the drop-down menu. The information in this section is used to determine two things: your dependency status and your eligibility for Federal financial aid. When choosing from the drop-down menu, remember you need to have completed whichever option you select.

Question 26: What will your high school completion status be when you begin college in the 2020–21 school year?

From the choices provided in the drop-down menu, you have to select the option most relevant to your high school completion status.

  • Choose ‘High school diploma’ if you have received or will receive a U.S. high school diploma before the first date of your enrollment in the college or if you have received or will receive a foreign school diploma that is equivalent to a U.S. high school diploma before the first date of your enrollment in college.
  • Choose ‘GED certificate’ or ‘State authorized high school equivalent certificate’ if you have received or will receive either one of these certificates before the first date of your enrollment in college. A State authorized high school equivalent certificate is not the same as a high school diploma, so make sure you tick the correct option.
  • Click ‘Homeschooled’ if you have completed your home schooling at the secondary level regulated by the State you are a resident of.
  • Click ‘None of the above’ if you do not have a high school diploma, GED certificate or equivalent, or if you have not completed your State-regulated secondary school in a home-school setting.   

Question 27: Student’s high school name, city, and state

In this field you enter the name, city, and state of the high school where you have received or will receive your high school diploma. Entering as much information as possible will help you obtain the most relevant search results. When entering your high school name and city, you may enter either the full name or commonly accepted aliases or abbreviations. For example, you may enter ‘Hamilton HS’ for Hamilton High School, or ‘St. Augustine’ for Saint Augustine.

If you received a foreign school diploma that is equivalent to a U.S. high school diploma, select ‘Foreign Country’ for the question, ‘In what state is your high school located’?

Question 28: Will you have your first bachelor’s degree before you begin the 2020–21 school year?

  • Select ‘Yes’ if you have or will have earned your bachelor’s degree by July 1, 2020.
  • Select ‘Yes’ if you have or will have earned a degree equivalent to a bachelor’s degree from a school in a foreign country by July 1, 2020.
  • Select ‘No’ if you do not and will not have earned a bachelor’s degree by July 1, 2020.
Question 29: Student Grade Level

 

Question 29 asks about your Student Grade Level. It’s important to understand that this does not refer to the number of years you have attended school/college. Instead, it refers to your grade level in terms of your progress within your certificate or degree program. 

Question 29: What will your college grade level be when you begin the 2020–21 school year?

When answering this question, choose the grade level for which you are applying for Federal financial aid, which is the upcoming academic year. So if you will be a first-time college student and are currently a senior in high school, select ‘0 – Never attended college/1st yr undergraduate’. The grade level you select should be relevant from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021.

These are the options you can choose from:

  • 0 – Never attended college and 1st year undergraduate
  • 1 – Attended college before and 1st year undergraduate
  • 2 – 2nd year undergraduate/sophomore
  • 3 – 3rd year undergraduate/junior
  • 4 – 4th year undergraduate/senior
  • 5 – 5th year/other undergraduate
  • 6 – 1st year graduate/professional
  • 7 – Continuing graduate/professional or beyond
Question 30: Intended Degree / Certificate

Question 30 collects information about your intended degree or certificate for which you are applying for Federal financial aid. This is necessary since undergrad and grad programs differ considerably in terms of types of financial aid and amount of aid they offer.

Question 30: What degree or certificate will you be working on when you begin the 2020–21 school year?

There are several different types and level of degrees and certificates for which you could potentially receive financial aid. To answer this question, select the degree or certificate you will be working towards during the 2020–21 school year.

This question has a drop down menu, from which you have to choose the most relevant answer.  

  • 1st bachelor’s degree
  • 2nd bachelor’s degree
  • Associate degree (occupational or technical program)
  • Associate degree (general education / transfer program)
  • Certificate / diploma (occupational / technical / education program of less than 2 years)
  • Certificate / diploma (occupational / technical / education program of at least 2 years)
  • Teaching credential program (non degree program)
  • Graduate / professional degree
  • Other / undecided

Important things to keep in mind when filling this section:

  • Choose ‘1st Bachelor’s degree’ if you had not previously sought or completed a Bachelor’s degree at an institution of higher education at the time of filling the FAFSA.
  • An Associate’s degree is not the same as a Bachelor’s degree.
  • If you already possess an Associate’s degree you can choose “1st Bachelor’s degree”.
  • You cannot choose “1st Bachelor’s degree” if you have already received a bachelor’s degree from an institution of higher education, even if it is for a different major.
  • If your degree or certificate does not fit into any of the categories, or if you are undecided, select ‘Other/undecided’ from the drop down menu.
Question 31: Work Study

 

The Federal Work-Study Program provides opportunities for undergrad and grad students with financial need to work on campus and earn money to help pay for their education-related expenses. Question 31 seeks to determine whether or not you are interested in the Federal Work-Study program.

Question 31: Are you interested in being considered for work-study?

  • Choose ‘Yes’ if you would like to be considered for work-study.
  • Choose ‘No’ if you would not like to be considered for work-study.
  • Choose ‘Don’t know’ if you aren’t sure.

Two things to keep in mind when answering this question:

Answering ‘Yes’ does not guarantee that you will be offered Federal Work-study. Several other factors are taken into consideration when making this decision.

If you answer ‘Yes’ and are offered Federal Work-Study, you can decline the offer just as you can decline any financial aid that is offered to you.

Questions 32–39: Student’s Financial Status

 

Questions 32–39 collect information about the student’s financial status. This is used to calculate the EFC or Expected Family Contribution.  As of October 2018, students and parents are allowed to use IRS DRT to transfer federal tax information electronically. Users are also able to submit renewal applications. 

Question 32: For 2018, have you (the student) completed your IRS income tax return or another tax return listed in question 33?

You will need to answer this question based on whether you have already filed, have not yet filed, or will not file a tax return.

There are three options to choose from. Select the answer that describes your tax filing status:

  • I have already completed my tax return
  • I will file but have not yet completed my return
  • I’m not going to file. Skip to question 38.

The answer you choose should be based on your current tax filing status for the previous financial year.

While there is no problem if you have not yet filed your tax return, you should know that schools do not distribute Federal financial aid based on estimated figures, so if you have entered estimated figures into the fields, you will have to update your FAFSA with the exact figures after you have filed your tax returns.

If you choose ‘Already completed’, you may be eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to transfer your tax return information into the FAFSA.

Question 33: What income tax return did you file or will you file for 2018?

If you transferred your information from the IRS into your FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, your answer to this question will be pre-filled and marked as “Transferred from the IRS.”

If you did not use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, the answer to this question will not get pre-filled. Instead, you will have to choose the income tax return that you filed or will file for 2018 from the options provided below:

  • IRS 1040
  • A foreign tax return (IRS forms 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ)
  • A tax return with Puerto Rico, another U.S. territory, or Freely Associated State

Question 34: For 2018, what is or will be your tax filing status according to your tax return?

This question seeks to verify your tax filing status as it appears on your Federal tax return. 

If you filed or will file a tax return, you must select your tax return filing status for 2018.

If you (and if married, your spouse) filed a 1040 tax return, you must select the tax return filing status from the “Filing Status” field of your tax return.

You must choose one of the following options from the drop-down menu provided:

  • Single: (Unmarried or Divorced, but not remarried)
  • Head of Household: (If you pay for more than half of the household expenses of your dependent(s), and have been unmarried for the last year)
  • Married—Filed Joint Return
  • Married—Filed Separate Return
  • Qualifying Widow/Widower
  • Don’t Know (If you do not know, you can reference the first page of your Federal Tax Return, where it is listed under your address)

If you used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool and transferred your information from the IRS into your FAFSA in Question 32, the answer to this question will be marked as “Transferred from the IRS.”

Question 35: Did (or will) you file a Schedule 1 with your 2018 tax return?

Schedule 1 refers to “Additional Taxes and Adjustments to Income” that aren’t directly reported on 2018 form 1040. Examples of additional income include: capital gains, unemployment pay, prize money, gambling winnings, student loan interest deduction, self-employment tax, or educator expenses.

The options provided for this question are ‘Yes’, ‘No’ and ‘I don’t know’.

Question 36: What was your adjusted gross income for 2018?

If you used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool and transferred your information from the IRS into your FAFSA for Question 32, the answer to this question will be marked as “Transferred from the IRS.”

If you did not use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, the answer to this question is not automatically filled. In this case, you will have enter the amount of your (and if married, your spouse’s) AGI or Adjusted Gross Income in 2018 manually.

Your Adjusted Gross Income is considered to be your true income after certain deductions. In addition to income earned, it can also include several other sources of income such as alimony, business income, and Social Security.

If you filed a tax return as an individual, (or if married, you and your spouse filed a joint tax return), here’s how to find your Adjusted Gross Income.

  • On the IRS Form 1040 the AGI can be found on line 37

If you and your spouse filed separate tax returns here’s how to calculate your total AGI:

  • Assuming that you filed a 1040 and your spouse filed a 1040: add line 37 from both tax returns and enter the total amount.

If either you or your spouse filed a tax return and the other did not and will not file, here’s how to calculate your total AGI:

  • If you filed a 1040 and your spouse did not and will not file: Add line 37 from the 1040 to your spouse’s income earned from working.
  • If your spouse filed a 1040 and you did not and will not file: Add line 37 from the 1040 to your income earned from working.

In all of the instances above, ‘income earned from working’ could refer to earnings from the W-2 form(s) and/or any other earning statements.  

If you (and, if married, your spouse’s) 2018 AGI is ten million or more, enter 9999999

If you (and if married, your spouse’s) 2018 AGI is negative ten million or less, enter -9999999

If you (and if married, your spouse’s) 2018 AGI is zero, enter 0

Round the AGI off to the nearest dollar without including commas or decimal points.

Question 37: What was your income tax for 2018?

Question 37 seeks to determine how much you (and your spouse) have paid in income taxes. Answering this question is mandatory, unless you will not file a tax return, in which case you can leave it blank.

If you used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool and transferred your information from the IRS into your FAFSA in Question 32, the answer to this question will be pre-filled and marked as “Transferred from the IRS.”

If you did not use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool and the answer to this question is not pre-filled, you will need to enter your total tax amount for 2018.

If you filed a tax return as an individual (or if married, you and your spouse filed a joint tax return), here’s how to calculate your total tax:

  • On IRS Form 1040 Subtract line 46 from line 56 and enter the total

Note: The line numbers that are mentioned above are from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax form, not from the W-2 form.

If you filed a tax return as an individual, (or if married, you and your spouse filed a joint tax return), here’s how to calculate your total tax.

  • Assuming that you and your spouse filed a 1040: Subtract line 46 from line 56 and enter the total amount.

If you or your spouse have not yet filed a federal tax return, but will file, you will have to enter estimated amounts.

Note: The line numbers above are from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax form, not from the W-2 form.

  • If your total tax for 2018 is Ten million or more enter 9999999
  • If your total tax for 2018 is zero, enter 0

When entering your total tax due, round the number off to the nearest dollar without including commas or decimal points.

Note: Income tax is not the same as your income. It is the amount of tax that you (and if married, your spouse) paid on your income earned from work. Your income tax amount should not be the same as your adjusted gross income (AGI).

Question 38: How much did you earn from working in 2018?

Question 38 seeks to determine your overall income for the year. This includes, but not limited to, your wage earnings.

If you are not married and you used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, the answer to this question will be pre-filled.

If you are married and you used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, your total income and your spouse’s total income earned from working are transferred from the IRS. You are required to enter your portion of the transferred amount.

If you filed a 1040 tax return and used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, your tax information from IRS Schedule K-1 (Form 1065) does not get automatically transferred from the IRS. You are required to enter the amount that you reported in Box 14 [Code A] of IRS Schedule K-1 (Form 1065), if applicable.

If you filed or will file a tax return and did not use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, you will need to include the “wages, salaries, tips, etc.” from your 2018 income tax return. If the amount is on a joint tax return, you will need to report your earnings separately from your spouse’s earnings.

Here’s how to impute your earnings for either tax return:

  • If you filed IRS Form 1040: Use Lines 7 + 12 + 18* + Box 14 of IRS Schedule K-1 (Form 1065)

Note: When determining the income earned from work, if values from lines 12 or 18 or Box 14 [Code A] of IRS Schedule K-1 (Form 1065) are negative, treat them as zero.

If you are not a tax filer, you will need to add up all earnings on your W-2 form(s). The total of these amounts must be reported as income earned from work.

  • If your 2018 income earned from work is ten million or more: enter 9999999
  • If your 2018 income earned from work is negative ten million or less: enter -9999999
  • If your 2018 income earned from work is zero: enter 0

Round the figure to the nearest dollar without including commas or decimal points.

Question 39: How much did your spouse earn from working in 2018?

Question 39 seeks to determine your spouse’s overall income information separately from yours. This is applicable if you and your spouse had filed joint or separate tax returns.

If you had entered your marital status as ‘married’, you cannot leave this question blank.

If you are married and you used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, your total income and your spouse’s total income earned from working are transferred from the IRS. You are required to enter your spouse’s portion of the transferred amount.

If your spouse filed a 1040 tax return and you use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, the tax information from IRS Schedule K-1 (Form 1065) is not transferred from the IRS. You are required to enter the amount that your spouse reported in Box 14 [Code A] of IRS Schedule K-1 (Form 1065), if applicable.

If your spouse filed or will file a tax return and you do not use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, include the “wages, salaries, tips, etc.” from your spouse’s 2018 income tax return. If the amount is on a joint tax return, your spouse’s earnings must be reported separately from your own.

  • If your spouse filed IRS Form 1040: Use line 7 + 12 +18* + Box 14 [Code A] of IRS Schedule K-1 (Form 1065)

Note: Tax filers who are self-employed should use lines 12 and 18 and Box 14 [Code A] of IRS Schedule K-1 (Form 1065). If values from lines 12 or 18 or Box 14 [Code A] of IRS Schedule K-1 (Form 1065) are negative, they should be treated as zero when determining the income earned from work.

Tax filers who are not self-employed should only use line 7.

If your spouse is not a tax filer, you must add up all earnings on your spouse’s W-2 form(s). The total of these amounts must be reported as income earned from work.

  • If your spouse’s 2018 income earned from work is ten million or more: enter 9999999
  • If your spouse’s 2018 income earned from work is negative ten million or less: enter –9999999
  • If your spouse’s 2018 income earned from work is zero: enter 0

Round the figure to the nearest dollar without including commas or decimal points.

Questions 40–42: Assets

 

Questions 40–42 collect information about your (and if married, your spouse’s) assets (investments/businesses). This is necessary in order to determine your financial award.

If you need any help with reporting investments in questions 40–42, call the Federal Student Aid Information Center 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243).

Question 40: What is the total current balance of your cash, savings, and checking accounts?

Add the account balances of your (and, if married, your spouse’s) cash, savings and checking accounts as of the day you submit your FAFSA.

When answering the question, enter the total of all accounts as the total current balance. If the total is negative, enter 0 as the total current balance.  

  • If your (and if married, your spouse’s) total account balances are ten million or more: enter 9999999
  • If your (and if married, your spouse’s) total account balances are negative or zero: enter 0

Round the total amount to the nearest dollar without including commas or decimal points.

Question 41: What is the net worth of your investments?

The net worth of your (and, if married, your spouse’s) current investments is the amount left over after deducting the debt from the value of each investment.

Investment value means the current balance or market value of these investments as of the day you submit your FAFSA. Investment debt means only those debts that are related to the investments.

  • If your (and, if married, your spouse’s) net worth as of the day you submit your FAFSA is ten million or more: enter 9999999
  • If your (and if married, your spouse’s) net worth as of the day you submit your FAFSA is zero or less than zero: enter 0

Note 1: Investments include trust funds, mutual funds, bonds, real estate (not including the home in which you live), rental property (includes a unit within a family home that has its own entrance, kitchen, and bath rented to someone other than a family member), UGMA and UTMA accounts, money market funds, certificates of deposit, stocks, stock options, other securities, installment and land sale contracts (including mortgages held), commodities, etc.

Note 2: Investments also include qualified educational benefits or educations savings accounts such as Coverdell savings accounts, 529 college savings plans, and the refund value of 529 prepaid tuition plans.  

Note 3: Investments do not include the home in which you live, the value of life insurance, retirement plans or cash, savings, and checking accounts.  

Note 4: If you are not required to report parental information and you own (or if married, your spouse owns) any of these qualified educational benefit plans, report the current balance of the plan as a student/spouse asset. The amount reported for a prepaid tuition plan is the “refund value” of the plan.

Question 42: What is the net worth of your current businesses and/or investment farms?

When answering this question, enter the net worth (current value minus debt) of the current businesses and/or investment farms that you (and if married, your spouse) own as of the day you submit your FAFSA.

The net worth is the amount left over after deducting the debt from the value of each investment. You cannot use a negative value of one investment to lower the value of other investments.

  • If the net worth is ten million or more: enter 9999999
  • If the net worth is zero or less than zero: enter 0

Round the value to the nearest dollar without including commas or decimal points.

Note 1: The value of a business and/or investment farm includes the market value of land, buildings, equipment, machinery, inventory, etc.

Note 2: Business and/or investment farm debt refers to only those debts for which the business or investment farm was used as collateral.

Note 3: Business value does not include the value of a small business if your family owns and controls more than half of the business and the business has 100 or fewer full-time or full-time equivalent employees. For small business value, your family includes either persons directly related to you such as a parent, sister, or cousin or persons who are or were related to you by marriage such as a spouse, stepparent, or siblings-in-law.

Question 43: Additional Financial Info

 

Question 43 collects a student’s additional financial information and is broken into six distinct categories.

  1. Education credits
  2. Child support
  3. Taxable earnings from need-based employment programs
  4. College grant and scholarship aid reported to the IRS
  5. Combat pay or special combat pay
  6. Cooperative education program earnings

Note 1: If you’re married, along with your own financial information, you are also required to report your spouse’s financial information, such as taxable earnings from need-based employment programs and combat pay.  

Note 2: For all questions, round up your answers to the nearest dollar without including commas or decimal points.

Note 3: Where line numbers are mentioned, they are from the IRS tax form, not the W-2 form.

Question 43a: What were your total education credits?

If you used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool and transferred your information from the IRS into your FAFSA in Question 32, the answer to this question will be marked as “Transferred from the IRS.”

If you did not use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, the answer to this question will not get pre-filled. In this case, you will have enter the total amount of education credits (American Opportunity Tax Credit or Lifetime Learning Tax Credit) you (and if married, your spouse) received in 2018.

If you filed a tax return (or if married, you and your spouse filed a joint tax return), here’s where you can find your total education credits:

  • For Form 1040: Use line 50

If you and your spouse filed separate tax returns, here’s how to calculate your total education credits:

Assuming you and your spouse filed a 1040: Add line 50 from both tax returns and enter the total amount

If you or your spouse have not yet filed a federal tax return, but will do so, you will have to enter estimated amounts into the relevant fields.

Question 43b: How much total child support did you pay?

Check this box if you (and if married, your spouse) paid child support to a dependent whom you do not have primary custody of. Enter the total amount of child support paid.

Do not include support for children in your household.

Question 43c: What were your taxable earnings from need-based employment programs?

Enter the total amount of taxable earnings that you (and if married, your spouse) received in 2018 from Federal Work-study or other need-based work programs such as fellowships and assistantships.

Federal Work-study is income earned from work and should be reported as wages on your W-2 form, regardless of whether or not you are a tax filer.

Question 43d: How much taxable college grant or scholarship aid did you receive?

Check this box if you received any outside college grant and scholarship aid, which was reported to the IRS as part of your (or if married, your spouse’s) Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) for 2018. Enter the total amount of aid received. You can find this figure on your tax return as a deduction as part of your Adjusted Gross Income.

Types of student aid that need to be reported as part of the AGI may include:

  • Scholarships
  • Grants
  • Fellowships/Assistantships (grant or scholarship portions)
  • Waivers/Remissions
  • AmeriCorps education awards
  • AmeriCorps interest accrual payments (for student loan interest that accrued during your AmeriCorps term of service)
  • AmeriCorps living allowances (but not insurance or child care payments)

Question 43e: How much combat pay or special combat pay did you report in your AGI?

Check this box if you find this figure on your tax return as a deduction as part of your Adjusted Gross Income. Enter the total amount of taxable combat pay or special combat pay that you (and if married, your spouse) received in 2018. Enter the amount that was taxable and included in the Adjusted Gross Income. This section will also now include questions relating to untaxed pensions. 

Question 43f: What were your earnings from work under a Cooperative Education Program offered by a college?

Check this box if you (and if married, your spouse) earned from work under a cooperative education program offered by a college in 2018. Enter the total income earned.

Question 44: Untaxed Income

 

Question 44 collects information about a student’s untaxed income and is broken into nine different categories:

  1. Payments to a tax-deferred pension and retirement savings plans
  2. Payments to IRA or Keogh
  3. Amount of child support received
  4. Total tax-exempt interest income
  5. Total untaxed portions of IRA distributions and pensions
  6. Housing, food, and other living allowances paid to military, clergy, and others
  7. Veterans’ non-education benefits
  8. Other untaxed income not reported such as workers’ compensation or disability benefits
  9. Money received or paid on your behalf

Note 1: If you are married and have a spouse, you must report your spouse’s information on the FAFSA alongside your own when answering all of questions.

Note 2: ‘Untaxed income’ refers to any income that has been earned by a student or parent which does not appear on a Federal tax return. For example, you do not have to file a tax return from minimal-wage jobs such as babysitting and pet-walking. However, you must report these untaxed earnings on the FAFSA even though they are not reported to the IRS via a tax return.

Note 3: For all questions, round up your answers to the nearest dollar without including commas or decimal points.

Note 4: Where line numbers are mentioned, they are from the IRS tax form, not from the W-2 form.

Question 44a: What were your total tax-deferred pension payments?

Check this box if you (and if married, your spouse) paid towards your tax-deferred pension and/or retirement savings plan from your income. Enter the total amount paid directly or withheld from your earnings.

These figures can be found on your W-2 form in Box 12a through 12d, codes D, E, G, H, and S. Enter the sum of these figures.

Don’t include amounts reported in code DD (employer contributions toward employee health benefits).

Question 44b: How much did you pay to your IRA or Keogh?

If you used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool and transferred your information from the IRS into your FAFSA in Question 32, the answer to this question will be pre-filled and marked as “Transferred from the IRS.”

If you did not use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, the answer to this question will not get pre-filled. In this case, you will have to enter the total amount of your IRA deductions and payments to self-employed SEP, SIMPLE and Keogh and other qualified plans, in 2018.

If you filed (or if married, you and your spouse filed a joint tax return), here’s where you can find the IRA/Keogh/SEP/SIMPLE payments:

  • If you filed IRS Form 1040: Use Lines 28 + 32

If you and your spouse filed separate tax returns, here’s how to calculate your total IRA/Keogh/SEP/SIMPLE payments:

  • Assuming you and your spouse filed a 1040: Add lines 28 + 32 from both tax returns and enter the total amount

If you or your spouse have not yet filed a federal tax return, but will file, you will have to enter estimated amounts in the lines noted.

Question 44c: How much total child support did you receive?

Check the box if you (or your spouse) received child support from a non-custodial parent. Enter the total amount of child support received in 2018 for all children in your household.

Question 44d: What was your total tax-exempt interest income?

If you used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool and transferred your information from the IRS into your FAFSA in Question 32, the answer to this question will be pre-filled and marked as “Transferred from the IRS.”

If you did not use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, the answer to this question will not get pre-filled. Instead, you will have to enter the total amount of tax-exempt interest income you reported in 2018.

Use Line 8b if you filed IRS Form 1040 

If married, and you and your spouse filed separate tax returns, enter the total amount of your combined tax-exempt interest income.

Question 44e: What were your total untaxed portions of IRA distributions and pensions?

If you used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool and transferred your information from the IRS into your FAFSA in Question 32, the answer to this question will be pre-filled and marked as “Transferred from the IRS.” You must exclude rollovers.

If you did not use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, the answer to this question will not get pre-filled. In this case, you must enter the total amount of the untaxed portions of IRA distributions and pensions you (and if married, your spouse) received in 2018. If the total is a negative amount, enter a zero (0).

If you or you and your spouse have not filed a federal tax return but will do so, enter estimated amounts in the lines noted above.

Questions 44f: What were your total allowances received?

Check this box if you received any allowances in 2018. Enter the total cash value of housing, food, and any other living allowances you received. These allowances are often paid to military, clergy and others. Don’t include rent subsidies for low-income housing, the value of a basic military allowance for housing, or the value of on-base military housing.

Question 44g: What were your total veterans’ non-education benefits?

Check this box if you or your spouse received any veterans non-education benefits in 2018. This includes Disability (for veterans), Death Pension, or Dependency & Indemnity Compensation (DIC) and/or VA Educational Work-Study allowances.

Enter the amount received. Do not include these benefits:

  • Montgomery GI Bill
  • Post-9/11 GI Bill
  • VA Vocational Rehabilitation Program
  • VEAP Benefits
  • Dependents Education Assistance Program

Question 44h: What was the total of your other untaxed income or benefits?

Check this box if you (and, if married, your spouse) have any other untaxed income in 2018, which had not been reported earlier. This includes money received by way of worker’s compensation, disability benefits, Black Lung Benefits, etc. Enter the amount received. Also include the untaxed portions of health savings accounts from IRS Form 1040 – line 25.

In this field do not include welfare payments, student aid, child tax credit, untaxed Social Security benefits, extended foster care benefits, earned income credit, Supplemental Security Income, on-base military housing or a military housing allowance, foreign income exclusion combat pay, credit for federal tax on special fuels, or benefits from flexible spending arrangements (e.g., cafeteria plans).

Question 44i: What other money has been paid on your behalf?

Check this box if you’ve received money in any form to help cover your expenses (education included) that has not been reported any place else on the FAFSA.

Enter the total amount of cash support you (and if married, your spouse) received in 2018 from a friend or relative (other than your parents, if you’re a dependent student). Report the amount if it’s not reported elsewhere on this application.

If someone other than a parent whose information is reported on this application is paying rent, utility bills, etc., for you while you attend school, you must enter the amount of that person’s contributions.

You must also include money that you received from a parent or any other person whose financial information is not reported on this form and that is not part of a legal child support agreement. This includes distributions to you from a 529 plan that’s owned by someone other than you or your parents—such as your grandparents, uncles, aunts, and non-custodial parents.

Questions 45–57: Dependent or Independent Status

 

Questions 45–57 are dependency-related. Every applicant must answer all the questions listed in this section. Your answers are used to determine if you’re a dependent or an independent student. This is used for federal student aid purposes and the questions are pretty straightforward.

If you answer “No” to all of these questions, you are considered a dependent student, even if you do not live with your parents. In this case the school’s financial aid administrator may make a dependency override decision after taking into consideration other entries from your application. This decision is final and cannot be appealed to the U.S. Department of Education.

Dependent students will need to answer questions 58–92, and provide information about your parents.

If you answered “Yes” to any one of the questions, you are considered an independent student. Independent students may skip questions 58–92 and go straight through to question 95 and continue through to the end of the application.

For FAFSA purposes, you are considered an independent student if you meet any of the following criteria:

  • At least 24 years old
  • A graduate or professional student
  • Married
  • An orphan
  • A ward of the court
  • An emancipated minor
  • A member of the armed forces
  • A Veteran
  • Have legal dependents other than a spouse
  • Homeless or at risk of becoming homeless

For more information on dependency status, go to Studentaid.gov/dependency.

Question 45: Were you born before January 1, 1997?  

For FAFSA purposes, applicants who are 24 years and above are considered independent students.

The answer to this question is pre-filled. It pulls your answer from the ‘date of birth’ question earlier in the application.

The answer to this question will display ‘Yes’ if you entered a birth date earlier than January 1, 1997.

The answer to this question will display ‘No’ if you entered a birth date after January 1, 1997.

Question 46: Are you married?

Question 46 collects information about your current marital status. For FAFSA purposes, applicants who are married are considered independent students.

The answer to this question is pre-filled. Your answer is pulled from the ‘marital status’ question earlier in the application.

  • The answer to this question will display ‘Yes’ if you reported that you are married or separated.
  • The answer to this question will display ‘No’ if you reported that you are single, divorced, or widowed.

If you get married after filing the FAFSA, you must notify your financial aid office about your change in status.

Question 47: At the beginning of the 2020–2021 school year, will you be working on a master’s or doctorate program?

Question 47 collects information about your graduate program status. For FAFSA purposes, graduates and professional students are considered independent students.

The answer to this question is pre-filled. Your answer is pulled from the ‘grade level in college’ question earlier in the application.

  • The answer to this question will display ‘Yes’ if you indicated that you’re a graduate or professional student.
  • The answer to this question will display ‘No’ if you indicated that you never attended college or that you are an undergraduate student.

If you expect to begin a master’s or doctorate program sometime during the 2020–21 school year, you must contact your college’s financial aid office for assistance.

Question 48: Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training?

  • Select ‘Yes’ if you are currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces or are a National Guard or Reserves enlistee who is on active duty for other than state or training purposes.
  • Select ‘No’ if you are not currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces or if you are a National Guard or Reserves enlistee who is on active duty for state or training purposes.

Question 49: Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces?

Select ‘Yes’ if any of the following apply to you:

  • Have engaged in active duty (including basic training) in the U.S. Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard)
  • Are a National Guard or Reserve enlistee who was called to active duty for other than state or training purposes
  • Were a cadet or midshipman at one of the service academies
  • Were released under a condition other than dishonorable
  • You are not a veteran now but will be one by June 30, 2020

Select ‘No’ if any of these criteria apply to you:

  • Have never engaged in active duty (including basic training) in the U.S. Armed Forces
  • Are currently an ROTC student, a cadet or midshipman at a service academy
  • Are a National Guard or Reserves enlistee activated only for state or training purposes
  • Were engaged in active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces but released under dishonorable conditions
  • You are currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces and will continue to serve through June 30, 2020

Your answers to questions 48-49 will help either the Department of Education or your intended school determine if you qualify for certain types of military aid.

Question 50: Do you now have or will you have children who will receive more than half of their support from you between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021?

Select ‘Yes’ if:

  • You have children and they are receiving more than 50% of their support from you (and if married, your spouse)
  • You are expecting a child who will be born before or during the school year and you (and if married, your spouse) will provide more than 50% of the child’s support.

Select ‘No’ if:

  • You do not have children
  • Your children are not receiving more than 50% of their support from you (and if married, your spouse).

Question 51: Do you have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half of their support from you, now and through June 30, 2021?

Question 51 seeks to determine whether you have legal dependents other than a spouse. For FAFSA purposes, applicants who meet this criterion are considered independent students.

Select ‘Yes’ if:

  • Other people (not your children or spouse) live with you
  • These other dependents are receiving more than 50% of their support from you and will continue to receive more than 50% of their support from you through June 30, 2021.

Select ‘No’ if:

  • You do not have dependents other than your children or spouse
  • You have dependents, but they are not receiving more than 50% of their support from you.

Question 52: At any time since you turned age 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care or were you a dependent or ward of the court?

For FAFSA purposes, applicants who are Wards of the Court are considered independent students.

If you answer yes to this question and are a Ward of the Court, you are considered to be under the protective custody of the local State government and may be assigned a legal guardian.

Select ‘Yes’ if:

  • You had no living parent (biological or adoptive) at any time since you turned age 13, even if you are now adopted
  • You were in foster care at any time since you turned age 13, even if you are no longer in foster care as of today
  • You were a dependent or ward of the court at any time since you turned age 13, even if you are no longer a dependent/ward of the court as of today

Note 1: For federal student aid purposes, a person who is incarcerated is not considered a ward of the court.

Note 2: Your college financial aid administrator may ask you to submit proof that you were in foster care or a dependent/ward of the court. If you are not sure whether or not you were in foster care, you can get this information from your state child welfare agency.

Question 53: As determined by a court in your state of legal residence, are you or were you an emancipated minor?

For FAFSA purposes, applicants who are emancipated minor are considered independent students.

You are considered an emancipated minor if you have been legally removed from your biological parents’ custody through a court order, are married, or have entered military service.

Select ‘Yes’ if:

  • You can provide a copy of a court’s decision that, as of the date of filing the FAFSA, you are an emancipated minor
  • You can provide a copy of a court’s decision that you were an emancipated minor immediately before you reached the age of being an adult in your state

Select ‘No’ if:

  • You are still a minor and the court decision is no longer in effect
  • The court decision was not in effect at the time you became an adult

Note 1: The court must be located in your state of legal residence at the time the court’s decision was issued.

Note 2: The financial aid administrator at your college may ask you to submit additional information such as a copy of the court’s decision.

Question 54: Does someone other than your parent or stepparent have legal guardianship of you, as determined by a court in your state of legal residence?

Your answer to this question will help determine if you are to be considered a dependent or independent student specifically for the purpose of Federal financial aid.

For this question, the definition of legal guardianship does not include your parents, even if they were appointed by a court to be your guardian. You are also not considered a legal guardian of yourself.

Select ‘Yes’ if:

  • You can provide a copy of a court’s decision that, as of the date of filing the FAFSA, you are in legal guardianship.
  • You can provide a copy of a court’s decision that you were in a legal guardianship immediately before you reached the age of being an adult in your state.

Select ‘No’ if:

  • You are still a minor and the court decision is no longer in effect or the court decision was not in effect at the time you became an adult.
  • Custody was awarded by the courts and the court papers say custody (not guardianship). Contact your school for further assistance in this case.

Note 1: The court must be located in your state of legal residence at the time the court’s decision was issued.

Note 2: The financial aid administrator at your college may ask you to submit additional information such as a copy of the court’s decision.

Question 55: At any time on or after July 1, 2019, did your high school or school district homeless liaison determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?

For FAFSA purposes, applicants who are homeless or at the risk of becoming homeless are considered independent students.

You may be considered homeless if you don’t have fixed, regular, and adequate housing, and are living in shelters, abandoned buildings, public spaces, parks, camping grounds, cars, motels, hotels, or temporarily living with other people because you have nowhere else to go.

You may also be considered homeless if you’re living in any of these situations because you’re fleeing an abusive parent, even if your parent would otherwise provide a place to live.

‘Unaccompanied’ means you are not living in the physical custody of your parent or guardian.

‘Youth’ means you’re 21 or younger, or you are still enrolled in high school as of the day you file the FAFSA.

Select ‘Yes’ if:

  • You received a determination at any time on or after July 1, 2019 that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless.

Select ‘No’ if:

  • You are not homeless or you do not have a determination.

Question 56: At any time on or after July 1, 2019, did the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self- supporting and at risk of being homeless?

For FAFSA purposes, applicants who are homeless or at the risk of becoming homeless are considered independent students.

Select ‘Yes’ if:

  • You received a determination at any time on or after July 1, 2019 that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless.

Select ‘No’ if:

  • You are not homeless or do not have a determination.

Note 1: Contact the financial aid administrator at the college you plan to attend if you need any assistance with answering this question.

Note 2: The financial aid administrator at your college may ask you to submit a copy of the determination.

Question 57: At any time on or after July 1, 2019, did the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?

Select ‘Yes’ if:

  • You received a determination at any time on or after July 1, 2019 that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless.

Select ‘No’ if:

  • You are not homeless or self-supporting and at risk of being homeless, or you do not have a determination.

Note 1: Contact the financial aid administrator at the college you plan to attend if you need any assistance with answering this question.

Note 2: The financial aid administrator at your college may ask you to submit a copy of the determination.

Questions 58–59: Parental Marital Status

 

Questions 58–92 collect information about the marital and financial status of your legal parents. All dependent students who answered “No” to every question from 45–57 must answer all these questions. When calculating the Estimated Family Contribution (EFC), the information you file in this section will be used to determine how much of your parents’ income and assets should be available to contribute to your cost of attendance.

In all of the questions in these sections “Parent” refers to a biological or adoptive parent, or a person determined by the state to be a parent (for example, if the parent is listed on the birth certificate).

Grandparents, older brothers or sisters, foster parents, aunts and uncles, legal guardians, and widowed stepparents are not considered parents unless they have legally adopted you.

Questions 58 and 59 refer to the current marital status of your legal parents, as well as significant dates in reference to their marriage, divorce, or widowing.

If one of your parents is widowed or divorced and has remarried, you must include information about that parent and your stepparent.

Question 58: As of today, what is the marital status of your legal parents (biological and/or adoptive)?

You must select the answer that is relevant to your parents’ marital status as of the day you submit your FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

The options available in the dropdown box include:

  • Never married
  • Married or remarried
  • Divorced or separated
  • Unmarried and both parents living together
  • Widowed

Note 1: Choose “Married or Remarried” if one of your parents is widowed or divorced and has remarried, and enter the relevant information about that parent and your stepparent. Do not choose this option if your parents are living together but are not otherwise legally married unless your parents’ state of legal residence recognizes their relationship as a common law marriage.

Note 2: For FAFSA purposes “Separated” includes a married couple who is considered legally separated by a state, or if the couple is legally married but has chosen to live separate lives, including living in separate households, as though they were not married.

If your parents are separated but living together, select “Married or Remarried,” not “Divorced or Separated.”

Note 3: When two married persons live as a married couple but are separated by physical distance (or have separate households), they are considered married for FAFSA purposes.

Note 4: If both of your legal parents (biological and/or adoptive) are not married to each other but live in the same household choose “Unmarried and both parents living together” This is also the option to choose if your legal parents are divorced but living together.

Question 59: Month and year your parents were married, separated, divorced, or widowed

This question collects information about your biological parents’ marital status. This information is used to determine whose details are to be reported in future questions in the application.

Here’s how to answer this question:

  • If your parents are legally married, enter the date they married or remarried.
  • If your parents are currently separated, enter the date they separated.
  • If your parents are currently divorced, enter the date they were separated or divorced, whichever is earlier.
  • If your parent is currently widowed, enter the date he or she became widowed.

When entering the dates, enter two digits for the month and four digits for the year. So November 1987 would be written as 111987. For single-digit months (January – August), prefix the month with a zero. For example, May 1986 would be written as 051986.

Questions 60–63: Parental Information — Parent 1

 

Questions 60–63 collect information about the Social Security Number, name, and date of birth of the parent reporting information on this form or Parent 1. This may be your father, mother, or stepparent. While you may choose to enter information about any of your parents in this field, you must make sure that all details are relevant to the chosen parent. Do not mix the information of ‘Parent 1’ and ‘Parent 2’ as this may cause an error in your application.

Your parent’s details (SSN, last name, initial, and date of birth) must be an exact match with the details on the Social Security card and the file with the Social Security Administration. To update the information with the Social Security Administration, call 1-800- 772-1213 or go to www.ssa.gov.

Question 60: What is your parent’s Social Security Number? (Parent 1)

Enter your parent’s Social Security Number (SSN) without the dashes.

Enter all zeros (000000000) if your parent does not have a Social Security Number.

Question 61: What is your parent’s last name? (Parent 1)

Enter your parent’s last name.

You can only use letters (A-Z), numbers (0-9), periods (.), apostrophes (‘), dashes (-), or blanks (spaces). No other characters are allowed.

If your parent does not have a last name, enter their first name. Use only their legal name, not a nickname.

Question 62: What is your parent’s first initial? (Parent 1)

Enter the first initial of your parent’s first name. Use the initial of their proper name, again not a nickname.

Use only letters (A-Z), or leave it blank. No other characters are allowed.

Question 63: What is your parent’s date of birth? (Parent 1)

Enter your parent’s date of birth in “mmddyyyy” format.

Questions 64–67: Parental Information — Parent 2

 

Questions 64–67 collect information about the Social Security Number, name and date of birth of Parent 2. This may be your father, mother, or stepparent. While you may choose to enter information about any of your parents in this field, you must make sure that all details are relevant to the chosen parent. Do not mix the information of ‘Parent 1’ and ‘Parent 2’ as this may cause an error in your application.

Your parent’s details (SSN, last name, initial, and date of birth) must be an exact match with the details on the Social Security card and the file with the Social Security Administration. To update the information with the Social Security Administration, call 1-800-772-1213 or go to www.ssa.gov.

Questions 64:  What is your parent’s Social Security Number? (Parent 2)

Enter your parent’s Social Security Number (SSN) without the dashes.

Enter all zeros (000000000) if your parent does not have a Social Security Number.

Questions 65: What is your parent’s last name? (Parent 2)

Enter your parent’s last name.

  • You can only use letters (A-Z), numbers (0-9), periods (.), apostrophes (‘), dashes (-), or blanks (spaces). No other characters are allowed.
  • If your parent does not have a last name, enter their first name. Use their proper name, not a nickname.

Questions 66: What is your parent’s first initial? (Parent 2)

Enter the first initial of your parent’s first name. Use the initial of their proper name, not a nickname.

Use only letters (A-Z), or blank. No other characters are allowed.

Questions 67: What is your parent’s date of birth? (Parent 2)

Enter your parent’s date of birth in “mmddyyyy” format.

Question 68: Parents’ Email

 

When you provide your parents’ e-mail address the Department of Education will use it to communicate important information about your application to your parents, including notifying them when your FAFSA is processed.

This e-mail address will also be shared with the state and the colleges listed on your FAFSA so they can communicate with your parents electronically.

Question 68: Your parents’ e-mail address

Provide a valid e-mail address. Leave this field blank if your parents do not have an e-mail address.

Question 69–71: Parents’ Residency

 

Questions 69–71 asks about your parents’ legal residency.

Question 69: What is your parents’ state of legal residence?

To answer this question, select your parents’ current state or country of legal residence.

Select ‘Foreign Country’ if your parents’ legal residence is in a foreign country.

Note 1: If your parents are separated or divorced, use the state or country of legal residence for the parent whose information is reported on this application.

Note 2: Every state uses different criteria to determine legal residency. Contact your college’s financial aid office if you need help with determining legal residence qualifications in any particular state.

Note 3: If your legal parents (biological and/or adoptive) have different states of legal residence, answer for the parent that you lived with most during the last 12 months. If you did not live with one parent more than the other, provide information about the parent who provided more financial support during the last 12 months or during the most recent year that you actually received support from a parent.

Question 70: Did your parents become legal residents of their state before January 1, 2015?

  • Select ‘Yes’ if your parents have lived in their state before January 1, 2015.
  • Select ‘No’ if your parents have lived in their state before January 1, 2015.

Question 71: Month and year your parents became legal residents

If you answered ‘No’ to Question 70, you must enter the month and year legal residency began for the parent who has lived in the state the longest. If your parents are divorced or separated, use the date for the parent whose financial information you reported on this application.

When entering this information, enter two digits for the month and four digits for the year. For single-digit months (January to September) enter a zero in front of the number.

Questions 72–73: Household

 

Questions 72 and 73 collect information about who specifically resides in your household/home and which of the people who reside in your household/home are or will currently attend either college or a degree-seeking program in the upcoming academic year.

Question 72: How many people are in your parents’ household?

To determine your parents’ household size, include:

  • Yourself
  • Your parents
  • The number of other children (other than yourself, even if they do not live with your parents) who will receive more than half of their support from your parents between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021.
  • The number of people who are not your parents’ children but who live with your parents and will receive more than half of their support from your parents between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021.

If you are not sure who to list in this section, check your parents’ Federal tax return. The persons listed as dependents on this document will give you an idea of who can be listed.

Question 73: How many people in your parents’ household (excluding your parents) will be college students in 2020–21?

Enter the number of people in your parents’ household who will attend college between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021.

You must include:

  • Yourself, even if you will attend college less than half-time in 2020–21
  • Other people in your parents’ household, only if they will attend college at least half-time in 2020–21, in a program that leads to a college degree or certificate

Do not include:

  • Your parents, even if they are enrolled at least half-time in 2020–21 in a program leading to a degree or a certificate.
  • Students at a U.S. service academy, as most of their primary educational expenses are paid for by the federal government.
Questions 74–78: Parental Supplemental Benefits

 

This series of questions aim to determine if your parent(s) received any form of supplemental government (Federal or State) assistance towards their living expenses, which may qualify you for Federal financial aid.

Answering these questions will NOT reduce your eligibility for federal student aid or your eligibility for any of these programs.

Select the appropriate check box if your parents or anyone in your parents’ household received any of the following during 2017 or 2018. Mark all that apply.

Question 74 – Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Question 75 – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Question 76 – Free or Reduced Price School Lunch

Question 77 – Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

Question 78 – Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

Check ‘None of the above’ if none of these benefits were received during 2018 or 2019.

Note 1: Family assistance programs such as SNAP and/or TANF may have different names in different states. If you are not sure what it is called in your parents’ state, call 1-800-433-3243 to find out. 

Note 2: If you, your parents, or anyone in your household receives any of these benefits after filing the FAFSA but before December 31, 2020, you must provide the updated information by logging in to studentaid.gov and selecting “Make FAFSA Corrections.”

Note 3: Question 78 refers to whether or not you had received financial support through the WIC (The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children). This program provides Federal grants to States for food, nutrition education and health care, for low-income pregnant women, infants, and children under age five who are found to be at-risk.

Questions 79–82: Parental Tax Return Filing Status

 

If you are a dependent student, questions 79–92 collect information about your parent / parents’ income tax return. The FAFSA uses this information to assess your family’s financial ability to pay for college.

If your answer to Question 59 was “Unmarried and both parents living together,” call 1-800-433-3243 for assistance with answering questions 79–92. 

For questions 79–82, the FAFSA will ask about your parents’ tax return filing status.

Question 79: Have your parents completed a 2018 income tax return?

If your parents are now married, answer this question about them as a couple.

If your parents are either not married, separated, divorced, or widowed, answer this question about the parent who is reporting financial information on the FAFSA.  

Choose the option that indicates your parents’ 2018 income tax return filing status:

  • Already completed
  • Will file
  • Not going to file

It’s important to be as accurate as possible when answering this question.

If you select ‘Will file’, your parent/parents must then update all relevant FAFSA files after they have filed their Federal tax return. This involves first changing their status from ‘Will file’ to ‘Already completed’. Their estimated answers on their 2017 tax return must then be changed to reflect the actual amounts paid. Your parents may also be eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to automatically transfer their tax return information into the FAFSA.

If you select ‘Not going to file’, and if you are eligible for Federal financial aid, the college may follow up to find out the reason why your parents did not file.

If your parents are not married, separated, divorced, or widowed, you are only required to report one parent’s financial information on the FAFSA.

Question 80: What type of income tax return did your parents file or will they file for 2018?

If your parents used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool and transferred their information from the IRS into your FAFSA in Question 79, the answer to this question will be pre-filled and marked as “Transferred from the IRS.”

If your parent did not use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, the answer to this question will not get pre-filled. In this case, you must select the income tax return that your parents filed or will file for 2017:

  • IRS 1040
  • A foreign tax return
  • A tax return for a U.S. territory or a Freely Associated State, which may include the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Marshall Islands, Guam, and Palau tax returns

Question 81 seeks to determine your parents’ tax filing status according to their tax return. You will not have reached this question if you had answered “Not going to file” for question 79.

Question 81: For 2018, what is or will be your parents’ tax filing status according to their tax return?

If your parents filed or will file a tax return, you must select your parents’ tax return filing status for 2017:

  • Single
  • Head of Household
  • Married – Filed Joint Return
  • Married – Filed Separate Return
  • Qualifying Widow(er)
  • Don’t know

If your parents used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool and transferred their information from the IRS into your FAFSA, the answer to this question will be marked as “Transferred from the IRS.”

Question 82: Did (or will) your parents file a Schedule 1 with their 2018 tax return? 

Schedule 1 refers to “Additional Taxes and Adjustments to Income” that aren’t directly reported on 2018 form 1040. Examples of additional income include: capital gains, unemployment pay, prize money, gambling winnings, student loan interest deduction, self-employment tax, or educator expenses.

Choose which is most applicable: Yes, No, or I Don’t Know.

Question 83: Parental Employment Status

 

Question 83 gathers information about your parents’ employment status, particularly if either of your parents is a dislocated worker.

In general, if a person quits their job they are not considered a dislocated worker, even if they are receiving unemployment benefits. The only exception is the spouse of an active duty member of the Armed Forces

Question 83: Is either of your parents a dislocated worker?

Answer this question about the parent who is completing the application.

  • Select ‘Yes’ if your parent is a dislocated worker.
  • Select ‘No’ if your parent is not a dislocated worker.
  • Select ‘Don’t know’ if you aren’t sure whether your parent is a dislocated worker.

You may contact the financial aid administrator at your college if you need help answering this question.

Note: If you answer ‘Yes’, the financial aid administrator at your college may ask you to submit proof that your parent is a dislocated worker.

Your parent/parents may be considered dislocated workers if they:

  • Has been laid off or received a lay-off notice from a job. This does not apply to a parent who quits their job voluntarily.
  • Is receiving unemployment benefits due to being laid off or losing a job and is unlikely to return to a previous occupation. The parent must be receiving employment compensation while they look for a new job.
  • Had been self-employed but is now unemployed due to factors beyond their control. This applies to a parent who has lost their business due to unavoidable economic conditions or natural disaster. It does not apply to a parent who voluntarily sells or closes their business in order to pursue a different job.  
  • Is the spouse of an active duty member of the Armed Forces and has lost a job because of having to relocate. This applies to a parent who may have been employed in one place but had to give up their job because their spouse may have been relocated to another military base.  
  • Is the spouse of an active duty member of the Armed Forces and is experiencing difficulty in obtaining or upgrading employment
  • Is a displaced homemaker. This applies to a stay-at-home parent who has had to relocate due to factors beyond their control and is no longer supported by the spouse, is unemployed or underemployed, or is having trouble finding or upgrading employment.
Questions 84–85: AGI & Income Tax

 

Question 84–85 collects information about your parents’ Adjusted Gross Income (AGI), total income tax, and any exemptions on their tax returns.

Question 85: What was your parents’ adjusted gross income for 2018?

If your parent used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool and transferred their information from the IRS into your FAFSA in Question 79, the answer to this question will be pre-filled and marked as “Transferred from the IRS.”

The response indicates the adjusted gross income (AGI) reported on your parents’ 2018 income tax return.

Scenario 1: If your parents filed a joint federal tax return, here’s where their AGI can be found:

  • IRS Form 1040 – Line 37

Scenario 2: If your parents filed separate tax returns, here’s how to calculate their total AGI:

  • If both parents filed a 1040: Add line 37 from both tax returns and enter the total amount

Note: If one or both parents will file a federal tax return, but have not yet filed, you will have to enter estimated amounts in the lines above.

Scenario 3: If one of your parents has filed a tax return and the other parent did not and will not file, here’s how to calculate their total AGI:

  • If one parent filed a 1040 and the other parent did not and will not file: Add line 37 from the 1040 to the other parent’s income earned from working

Note 1: The line numbers above are from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax form, not from the W-2 form.

Note 2: In all instances, ‘The other parent’s income earned from working’ refers to earnings from the W-2 form(s) and/or any other earning statements.

  • If your parents’ 2017 AGI is ten million or more: Enter 9999999
  • If your parents’ 2017 AGI is negative ten million or less: Enter -9999999
  • If your parents’ 2017 AGI is zero: Enter 0

Round the figure to the nearest dollar without including commas or decimal points.

Question 85: What was your parents’ total income tax for 2018?

‘Income tax’ refers to the amount of tax that your parents paid on the income that they earned from work. This amount should not be the same as their Adjusted Gross Income (AGI).

This question can’t be left blank unless your parents will not file a tax return.

If your parent(s) used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool and transferred their information from the IRS into your FAFSA in Question 79, the answer to this question will be pre-filled and marked as “Transferred from the IRS.”

If your parent(s) did not use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, the answer to this question will not get pre-filled.

Here’s how to calculate your parents’ total income tax for 2018 if they filed joint tax returns:

  • For IRS Form 1040: Subtract line 46 from line 56 and enter the total

If your parents filed separate tax returns, here’s how to calculate their total income tax for 2018:

Assuming both parents filed a 1040: Subtract line 46 from line 56 from both tax returns and enter the total amount

Note 1: If one or both parents will file a federal tax return, but haven’t yet filed, you’ll have to enter estimated amounts in the lines noted above.

Note 2: If you’re reporting information for both parents and one parent filed a federal tax return, but the other parent did not, use the line numbers from the tax return your parent filed.

Note 3: If neither of your parents will file a federal tax return, enter zero.

Note 4: The line numbers above are from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax form, not from the W-2 form.

  • If your parents’ total tax for 2017 is ten million or more: Enter 9999999
  • If your parents’ total tax for 2017 is zero: Enter 0

Round the figure to the nearest dollar without including commas or decimal points.

Questions 86–87: Parental Income

 

Questions 86–87 collect information about your parents’ income earned from working in 2017.

Answer question 86 with information about Parent 1. This may be your father, mother, or stepparent.

Answer question 87 with information about parent 2. This may be your father, mother, or stepparent.

While you may choose to enter information about any of your parents in Question 86 and 87, you must make sure that all details are relevant to the chosen parent. Do not mix the information of ‘Parent 1’ and ‘Parent 2’ as this may cause an error in your application.

Question 86: How much did Parent 1 earn from working in 2018?

If your parent is not married and used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, the answer to this question will be pre-filled.

If your parent is married and used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, your parents’ total income earned from working will be automatically transferred from the IRS.

If your parent filed a 1040 tax return and uses the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, tax information from IRS Schedule K-1 (Form 1065) is not transferred from the IRS. You are required to enter the amount that your parent reported in Box 14 [Code A] of IRS Schedule K-1 (Form 1065), if applicable.

If your parent filed or will file a tax return and did not use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, enter the “wages, salaries, tips, etc.” from their 2018 income tax return. Also, include income that they earned from Federal Work-Study or any other need-based employment.

If your parents filed a joint tax return, report each parent’s earnings separately. Your parents can use their W-2s or other earning statements to calculate their separate earning amounts.

For tax filers, here’s how to calculate the earnings:

  • IRS Form 1040: Enter amounts from lines 7 + 12 + 18* + Box 14 [Code A] of IRS Schedule K-1 (Form 1065)  

Note 1: Tax filers who aren’t self-employed should only use line 7.

Note 2: Lines 12 and 18 and Box 14 [Code A] of IRS Schedule K-1 (Form 1065) are only for tax filers who are self-employed.

Note 3: If values from lines 12 or 18 or Box 14 [Code A] of IRS Schedule K-1 (Form 1065) are negative, treat them as zero when determining the income earned from work.

Note 4: The line numbers above are from the IRS tax form, not from the W-2 form.

Note 5: If your parent did not file taxes, enter the total amount of earnings from work in 2017. Add up the earnings from the W-2 form and any other earning statements.

  • If your parent’s 2018 income earned from work is ten million or more: Enter 9999999
  • If your parent’s 2018 income earned from work is negative ten million or less: Enter -9999999
  • If your parent’s 2018 income earned from work is zero: Enter 0

Round the income earned to the nearest dollar without including commas or decimal points.

Question 87: How much did Parent 2 earn from working in 2018?

Question 87 is identical to Question 86 but it collects information about Parent 2.

Questions 90–92: Parental Finances and Net Worth

 

Questions 88–90 collect information on the parent’s monetary balance, net worth of businesses and/or investments.

Question 88: What is the total current balance of your parents’ cash, savings, and checking accounts?

Question 88 seeks to determine your parents’ total current balance of cash, savings, and checking accounts on the day of filing the FAFSA. The FAFSA collects this information to gain insight into your parents’ current financial situation.  

When answering this question, add the total balances of your parents’ cash, savings, and checking accounts as of the day you file your FAFSA. Enter the total of all accounts as the total current balance.

  • If the total is negative, enter zero as the total current balance.

Do not add student financial aid into the account balances.

  • If your parents’ total current balance is ten million or more: Enter 9999999
  • If your parents’ total current balance is negative or zero: Enter 0

Round the figure to the nearest dollar without including commas or decimal points.

Question 89: What is the net worth of your parents’ investments?

This question helps in calculating the amount of financial aid you may be eligible to receive.  

The net worth of your parents’ current investments is the amount that’s left over after deducting the debt from the value of each investment.

Investments include but are not limited to:

  • Trust funds
  • Mutual funds
  • Money market funds
  • Stocks
  • Stock options
  • Certificates of deposit
  • Bonds
  • Other securities
  • Commodities
  • Real estate (not including the home in which your parents live)
  • Rental property (including a unit within a family home that has its own entrance, kitchen, and bath rented to someone other than a family member)
  • Installment and land sale contracts (including mortgages held)

Investments also include qualified educational benefits or education savings accounts including but not limited to:

  • Coverdell savings accounts
  • College savings plans
  • Refund value of 529 prepaid tuition plans*

*Note: Students who must report parental information on this form are required to report all qualified educational benefits or education savings accounts owned by the parents and/or the dependent student as part of the parental assets. 

Investments do not include:

  • Cash
  • Savings and checking accounts
  • The home in which your parents live
  • Pension funds
  • The value of life insurance and retirement plans (401k) plans
  • Non-education IRAs
  • Annuities
  • Keogh plans

If your parents’ net worth as of the day you submit your FAFSA is ten million or more: Enter 9999999

If your parents’ net worth as of the day you submit your FAFSA is zero or less than zero: Enter 0

Round the figure to the nearest dollar and do not include commas or decimal points.

Note 1: Students who must report parental information on this form should report all qualified educational benefits or education savings accounts owned by the parents and/or the dependent student as part of the parental assets.

Note 2: Investment value means the current balance or market value of these investments as of the day you submit your FAFSA.

Note 3: Investment debt means only those debts that are related to the investments.

If you need more information about reporting investments, call the Federal Student Aid Information Center 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243).

Question 90: What’s the net worth of your parents’ current businesses and/or investment farms?

The net worth of your parents’ current businesses and/or investment farms is the amount left over after deducting the debt from the value of each investment.

A negative value of one investment cannot be used to reduce the value of other investments.

  • If the net worth is ten million or more: Enter 9999999
  • If the net worth is zero or less than zero: Enter 0

Round the figure to the nearest dollar without including commas or decimal points.

Note 1: The value of a business and/or investment farm includes the market value of land, buildings, equipment, machinery, inventory, etc.

Note 2: Business and/or investment farm debt refers to only those debts for which the business and/or investment farm was used as collateral.

Note 3: Business value does not include the value of a small business if your family owns and controls more than half of the business and the business has 100 or fewer full-time or full-time equivalent employees. For small business value, your family includes either persons directly related to you such as a parent, sister, or cousin or persons who are or were related to you by marriage such as a spouse, stepparent, or sister-in-law.

If you need more information about reporting investments, call the Federal Student Aid Information Center 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243).

Question 91: Additional Parental Financial Information

 

Question 91 determines your parents’ Additional Financial Information for 2017. This helps the FAFSA collect information about any relevant earnings or payments that would otherwise not show up on a Federal tax return.

Additional Financial Information is broken up into 6 categories and includes any money earned by way of education credits, child support, need-based employment programs, college grant and scholarship aid reported in AGI, combat pay reported in AGI, and cooperative education earnings.  

When answering all sub-sections of Question 91, round the amounts to the nearest dollar without including commas or decimal points.

Question 91a: What were your parents’ total education credits?

If your parents used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool and transferred their information from the IRS into your FAFSA in Question 80, the answer to this question will be pre-filled and marked as “Transferred from the IRS.”

If your parent did not use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool you will need to enter the total amount of education credits (American Opportunity Tax Credit and Lifetime Learning Tax Credit) your parents received in 2018.

If your parents filed a joint tax return, here’s where you will find their total education credits:

  • IRS Form 1040: Line 50

If your parents filed separate tax returns, here’s how to calculate their total education credits:

  • If both parents filed a 1040: Add line 50 from both tax returns and enter the total amount
  • If one parent filed a 1040 and the other parent filed a 1040A: Add line 50 from the 1040 and line 33 from the 1040A and enter the total amount
  • If both parents filed a 1040A: Add line 33 from both tax returns and enter the total amount

Note 1: If one or both parents will file a federal tax return, but have not yet filed, estimate the amount that will appear in the lines noted in the table above.

Note 2: The line number references above are from the IRS tax form, not from the W-2 form. Round to the nearest dollar and do not include commas or decimal points.

Question 91b: How much total child support did your parents pay?

Check this box if your parent/parents paid child support in 2018 to a dependent for whom they do not have primary custody. This may be because of divorce, separation, or as a result of a legal requirement.

Enter the total amount of child support your parents paid in 2018.

Do not include child support paid for children in your parents’ household.

Question 91c: What were your parents’ taxable earnings from need-based employment programs?

Check this box if your parents received earnings in 2018 from Federal Work-Study or other need-based work programs such as fellowships and assistantships.

Enter the amount your parents earned from such programs in 2018.

Note 1: Federal Work-Study should appear on your parents’ W-2 form and should be reported as wages, whether or not your parent is a tax filer.

Note 2: Your parents will not be penalized if you report work-study income in both places as the amounts from the Parents’ Additional Financial Information fields are treated differently in the EFC calculation.

Question 91d: How much taxable college grant or scholarship aid did your parents receive?

Check this box if your parents received any taxable college grants or scholarships, which were reported to the IRS as part of your parents’ adjusted gross income (AGI) in 2018.

Enter the total amount of college grant and scholarship aid your parents received in 2018. This figure can be found on your parents’ tax return as a deduction as part of their Adjusted Gross Income.

Student aid types that must be reported as part of the AGI may include:

  • Scholarships
  • Grants
  • Fellowships/Assistantships (grant or scholarship portions)
  • Waivers/Remissions
  • AmeriCorps education awards
  • AmeriCorps living allowances (but not insurance or childcare payments)
  • AmeriCorps interest accrual payments (for student loan interest that accrued during the parents’ AmeriCorps term of service)

Question 91e: How much combat pay or special combat pay did your parents report in their AGI?

Check this box if your parents received taxable combat pay or special combat pay in 2018.

Enter the total amount your parents received in 2018.

Only enter the amount that was taxable and included in the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI). This section will also soon include questions related to untaxed pensions. 

Question 91f: What were your parents’ earnings from work under a Cooperative Education Program offered by a college?

Check this box if your parents earned any income from work under a cooperative education program or co-op offered by a college in 2018.

Enter the total amount of income your parents earned. 

Question 92: Parental Untaxed Income

 

Question 92 collects information about your parents’ untaxed income. This helps the FAFSA gather relevant income information that may not otherwise show up on a Federal tax return. This is necessary in order to determine your financial award.

Question 92 is broken up into 8 categories:

  1. Parents’ total tax-deferred pension payments
  2. IRA deductions and payments to self-employed SEP, Keogh, SIMPLE and other qualified plans
  3. Child support received for any of your parents’ children
  4. Tax-exempt interest income
  5. Parents’ untaxed portions of IRA distributions and pensions
  6. Parents’ housing, food, and living allowances
  7. Parents’ Veterans Non-education benefits
  8. Other untaxed income

Question 92a: What were your parents’ total tax-deferred pension payments?

Enter the total amount your parents paid to their tax-deferred pension and retirement savings plans in 2017. This includes all amounts paid directly or withheld from their earnings.

These amounts can be found on your parents’ W-2 form in boxes 12a through 12d, codes D, E, F, G, H, and S.

Don’t include amounts reported in code DD, which refer to employer contributions toward employee health benefits.

Round the figure to the nearest dollar without including commas or decimal points.

Question 92b: How much did your parents pay to their IRA or Keogh?

If your parent used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool and transferred their information from the IRS into your FAFSA in Question 79, the answer to this question will be pre-filled and marked as “Transferred from the IRS.”

If your parents did not use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool you’ll need to enter the total amount of your parents’ IRA deductions and payments to self-employed SEP, SIMPLE, Keogh, and other qualified plans in 2018.

If your parents filed a joint tax return, here’s where you can find their IRA/Keogh/SEP/SIMPLE payments:

  • IRS Form 1040: Use Lines 28 + 32
  • IRS Form 1040A: Use Line 17

If your parents filed separate tax returns, here’s how to calculate their total IRA deductions and payments to self-employed SEP, SIMPLE, Keogh, and other qualified plans:

  • If both parents filed a 1040: Add lines 28 + 32 from both tax returns and enter the total amount
  • If one parent filed a 1040 and the other parent filed a 1040A: Add lines 28 + 32 from the 1040 and line 17 from the 1040A and enter the total amount
  • If both parents filed a 1040A: Add line 17 from both tax returns and enter the total amount

Note 1: If one or both parents will file a federal tax return, but have not yet filed, enter estimated amounts in the lines noted.

Note 2: The line number references above are from the IRS tax form, not from the W-2 form.

Round the figure to the nearest dollar without including commas or decimal points.

Question 92c: How much total child support did your parents receive?

Check this box if your parents received child support for all children in their household in 2018.

Enter the total amount of child support your parents received.

Don’t include adoption or foster care payments.

Question 92d: What was your parents’ total tax-exempt interest income?

If your parent used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool and transferred their information from the IRS into your FAFSA in Question 79, the answer to this question will be pre-filled and marked as “Transferred from the IRS.”

If your parent did not use the Data Retrieval Tool, enter the total amount of tax-exempt interest income your parents earned in 2018.

If your parents filed a joint tax return, for IRS Form 1040: Use Line 8b.

If your parents filed separate tax returns, add line 8b from both tax returns and enter the total amount.

Note 1: The line numbers above are from the Internal Revenue Service tax form, not from the W-2 form.

Note 2: Round the figure to the nearest dollar without including commas or decimal points.

Question 92e: What were your parents’ total untaxed portions of IRA distributions and pensions?

If your parent used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, the answer to this question will be pre-filled and marked as “Transferred from the IRS.”

If your parents didn’t use the Data Retrieval Tool, enter the total amount of the untaxed portions of IRS distributions and pensions your parents received in 2018.

If the total is a negative amount, enter a zero (0).

Note 1: If one or both parents will file a federal tax return, but have not yet filed, you must enter estimated amounts in the lines noted.

Note 2: The line number references above are from the IRS tax form, not from the W-2 form.

Note 3: Round to the nearest dollar and do not include commas or decimal points.

Question 92f: What were your parents’ total allowances received?

Enter the total cash value of housing, food, and any other living allowances your parents received in 2018. These allowances are often paid to military, clergy and others.

Do not include rent subsidies for low-income housing, the value of on-base military housing or the value of a basic military allowance for housing.

Round to the nearest dollar and do not include commas or decimal points.

Question 92g: What were your parents’ total veterans’ non-education benefits?

Enter the total amount of veterans’ non-education benefits that your parents received in 2018.

Veterans’ non-education benefits include:

  • Disability
  • Death Pension
  • Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
  • VA Educational Work-Study allowances

Don’t include veterans educational benefits such as:

  • Dependents Education Assistance Program
  • Montgomery GI Bill
  • VA Vocational Rehabilitation Program
  • Post-9/11 GI Bill
  • VEAP Benefits

Round to the nearest dollar and do not include commas or decimal points.

Question 92h: What was the total of your parents’ other untaxed income or benefits?

Enter the total amount of any other untaxed income or benefits, such as workers compensation, Black Lung Benefits, untaxed portions of Railroad Retirement Benefits, disability benefits, etc. that your parents received in 2017.

Also include the untaxed portions of health savings accounts from IRS Form 1040 – line 25.

Do not include:

  • Student aid
  • Welfare payments
  • Extended foster care benefits
  • Earned income credit
  • Untaxed Social Security benefits
  • Child tax credit
  • Combat pay
  • Supplemental Security Income
  • On-base military housing or military housing allowance
  • Benefits from flexible spending arrangements (e.g., cafeteria plans)
  • Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act educational benefits
  • Foreign income exclusion or credit for federal tax on special fuels

Round the figure to the nearest dollar without including commas or decimal points.

Questions 93–94: Independent Student Household

 

Questions 93-100 only apply to Independent Students. If you answered “Yes” to any of the dependency questions (45–57), you will need to answer questions 93–100.

For questions 93 and 94: The number of family members you report determines the allowance that will be subtracted from your family’s income to provide for basic living expenses when the U.S. Department of Education’s processor calculates your Expected Family Contribution. The number of family members in college directly affects your family’s ability to contribute to your education costs.

Question 93: How many people are in your household?

Question 93 collects information about your household size.

To determine your household size, include:

  • Yourself (and if married, your spouse).
  • The number of children who will receive more than 50% of their support from you (and if married, your spouse) between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021. This includes children who don’t live with you and any unborn children that will be born during the school year.
  • The number of people (not your children or spouse) who live with you and receive more than 50% of their support from you, and will continue to receive more than 50% of their support from you between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021.

Question 94: How many people in your household will be in college in 2020–2021?

You must enter the number of people in your household who will attend college between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021.

This includes:

  • Yourself even if you will attend college less than half-time in 2020–21.
  • Other people in your household, only if they will attend college at least half-time in 2020–21, in a program that leads to a college degree or certificate.

Do not include:

  • Students at a U.S. service academy, because most of their primary educational expenses are paid for by the federal government.
Questions 95–99: Independent Student Supplemental Benefits

 

Select the appropriate checkbox if you or anyone in your household received any of the following during 2018 or 2019:

Question 95 – Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Question 96 – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Question 97 – Free or Reduced Price School Lunch

Question 98 – Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

Question 99 – Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

Check ‘None’ of the above if none of these benefits were received during 2018 or 2019.

Note 1: Family assistance programs such as SNAP and/or TANF may have different names in different states. If you’re not sure what it’s called in your parents’ state, call 1-800-433-3243 to find out. 

Note 2: If you, your parents, or anyone in your household receives any of these benefits after filing the FAFSA but before December 31, 2020, you must provide the updated information by logging in to studentaid.gov and selecting ‘Make FAFSA Corrections.’

Note 3: Question 99 refers to whether or not you had received financial support through the WIC (The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children). This program provides Federal grants to States for food, nutrition education and health care, for low-income pregnant women, infants and children under age five who are found to be at-risk.

Question 100: Student Employee Status

 

Question 100 seeks to determine whether you or your spouse are dislocated workers. In general, if a person quits their job they are not considered a dislocated worker even if, they are receiving unemployment benefits. The only exception is the spouse of an active duty member of the Armed Forces

Question 100: Are you or your spouse a dislocated worker?

  • Select ‘Yes’ if you or your spouse is a dislocated worker.
  • Select ‘No’ if neither you nor your spouse is a dislocated worker.
  • Select ‘Don’t know’ if you are not sure whether you or your spouse is a dislocated worker.

You may contact the financial aid administrator at your college if you need assistance with answering this question.

Note: If you answer ‘Yes’, the financial aid administrator at your college may ask you to submit proof that your parent is a dislocated worker.

In general a person may be considered a dislocated worker if they:

  • Have been laid off or received a lay-off notice from a job. This doesn’t apply to a person who quits their job voluntarily.
  • Is receiving unemployment benefits due to being laid off or losing a job and is unlikely to return to a previous occupation. The person must be receiving employment compensation while they look for a new job.
  • Had been self-employed but is now unemployed due to factors beyond their control. This applies to anyone who has lost their business due to unavoidable economic conditions or natural disaster. It does not apply to a person who voluntarily sells or closes their business in order to pursue a different job.  
  • Is the spouse of an active duty member of the Armed Forces and has lost a job because of having to relocate. This applies to anyone who may have been employed in one place but had to give up their job because their spouse may have been relocated to another military base.  
  • Is the spouse of an active duty member of the Armed Forces and is experiencing difficulty in obtaining or upgrading employment
  • Is a displaced homemaker. This applies to a stay-at-home parent who has had to relocate due to factors beyond their control and is no longer supported by the spouse, is unemployed or underemployed, and is having trouble finding or upgrading employment.
Question 101: Colleges of Choice

 

Question 101 collects information about the schools you are interested in attending. This is necessary so your FAFSA information can be sent to these schools in order to determine your eligibility for financial aid at each school.

You can choose up to ten schools to send your FAFSA information to.

To learn how to submit the FAFSA to more than 10 colleges, click here.

In answering this question you must enter the 6-digit federal school code and your housing plans for each school you wish to receive your FAFSA information.

Question 101a, 101c, 101e, 101g: Federal School Code

A Federal School Code always has six characters, starting with 0 (zero), G, B, or E and ending with a five-digit number.

For example, 003223 is the Federal School Code for the University of Oregon.

Enter the Federal School Code for the college you’re interested in attending. If you don’t know the Federal School Code, you can instead search for the college by selecting the state, and entering the college’s name and/or city or you can find the school codes at studentaid.gov.  

After entering the Federal School Code, click ‘Search’.

If a match is found, it will display in the ‘Search Results’ table.

If the school you were looking for displays, click ‘Add’ to add it to your list of Selected Schools.

Question 101b, 101d, 101f, 101h: Housing Plans

For each school you’ve listed, select the appropriate housing plan in the Housing Plans column:

  • Select ‘On Campus’ if you are planning on choosing on-campus housing.
  • Select ‘With Parent’ if you are planning to live with your parent(s).
  • Select ‘Off Campus’ if you are planning to live off campus, but not with your parent(s).
Questions 102–106: Dates & Signatures

 

Questions 102–103 determines the date you completed your FAFSA and asks for your signature.

If you are a dependent student, your parent will need to sign as well.

If you paid someone to help you with completing the FAFSA, then that person also must provide their information.

Question 102: Date this form was completed

Enter the date when you completed the form.

Question 103: Student and Parent signature

Sign here with your legal names.

Question 104 — 105: Preparer’s Social Security Number and Employer ID Number

A preparer is a person who charges a fee for helping students fill out their FAFSA. If you paid a fee to anyone for advice or for completing this form, that person must complete this section.

Typically high school counselors, school financial aid administrators, or other mentors do not charge a fee to help you complete your application, so they are not considered preparers unless you paid them for their services.

A professional preparer must provide their Social Security Number or their company’s Employer Identification Number (EIN) issued by the Internal Revenue Service.

Question 106: Preparer’s Signature and Date

If a preparer helped file the form, they sign here.


While the FAFSA is a remarkable tool that can make college more affordable, it may not cover the full cost. After scholarships, grants, work studies, and Federal aid have all been exhausted, it may be time to turn to private student loans.

With college Raptor’s free Student Loan Finder, you can compare lenders and interest rates to find the loan option that will fit you best.

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