What financial information do you need to file FAFSA®?
The primary purpose of the FAFSA® is to paint a clear picture of the student’s financial situation, so the financial information provided by the student and the student’s family are the true backbone of the application.
The FAFSA® compiles your financial picture from three sources: taxes from two years prior, investments, and cash assets. Dependent students will need to include their parents’ information on their application, while married independent students will need to include their spouse’s financial information as a combined asset.
To successfully filing your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) you will need the following:
- Your federal income tax returns from two years prior – If you are filing for the 2020-2021 FAFSA® year, you must include your tax returns from 2018.
- Bank statements and records of investments
- Records of untaxed income – To find records of your untaxed income, go through your tax returns from two years prior.
If you are married you will need to include your spouse’s information based on the information mentioned above, along with yours. However, if you are a dependent student, the above information will also be required for your parent(s).
Taxes and other financial information from two years ago
The FAFSA® asks students and parents (of dependent students) for their federal tax information from two years prior to the academic year for which the student is applying. This means that students and parents will need their 2018 tax returns for the 2020-2021 FAFSA®. Here are the required documents:
- The first two pages of your federal 1040 or 1040A tax document, or the first page of your 1040EZ
- Puerto Rican form 482
- Foreign 1040 equivalent (values should be converted into US dollars)
- W2 form for pension and retirement savings
- Child support paid or received.
Students and parents who did not file taxes in the requested year due to low income can indicate so on the FAFSA®.
Students and parents who need to file taxes for the requested year, but who have not already done so, can enter their tax information from three years prior to the academic school year as a placeholder as long as there has not been a significant change in income or filing status.
When the appropriate taxes have been filed, the FAFSA® will need to be updated with the correct information. The appropriate tax return will have include information ranging from W2 form for pension and retirement savings to child support paid or received.
Current investment values
The FAFSA® also wants to know the current net worth of the student or parent’s investments. You will need the following information as applicable:
- Recent statements from investment accounts (stocks, bonds and other commodities)
- Statements from a 529 plan, Coverdell Education Savings Account, UGMA and UTMA accounts
- Documentation of the net worth of any investment properties (primary home not included)
The information previously mentioned can be obtained from your bank statement. If you want access to these records, contact your bank.
The following are not included among your investments but can be found in your tax returns:
- Value of your primary home
- Value of a family farm, or a small business with fewer than 100 employees
- 401k plans and IRA accounts
- Pension funds and plans
Current balance of cash, checking and savings accounts
Lastly, the FSA wants to know how much money you have in the bank on the day you are filing your FAFSA®. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Recent statements from all checking and savings accounts in the student’s or parent’s name. Each month the bank you are affiliated to will send an bank statement which will list all the transactions from that particular month.
Since bank balances will fluctuate throughout the month, there can be some benefit to filing your FAFSA® the day before payday.
When possible, it’s best for students and their parents to gather all this information before beginning the process of filing the student’s FAFSA®. Students and parents who have already compiled this information can complete Frank’s simplified version of the application on withFRANK.org in as little as five minutes.