Frequently Asked Questions About the FAFSA Application


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Who can assist me with any FAFSA questions I might have?

If you have general questions, you can call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) with questions about the FAFSA online or paper application process, or about federal student financial aid in general.

I'm not sure if I want to take out a student loan or work during the school year. What should I enter for the questions asking if I am interested in student loans or work-study?

Some schools use this information to put together a financial aid package for you. Answering "Yes" on the FAFSA to either question does not obligate you to take out a loan or accept a work-study position. It usually just means that the school will offer you a loan(s) or work-study as part of your aid package. If you do indicate on the application that you are interested in either a loan or work-study, you can change your mind and not accept the loans or work-study later.

If I live with an aunt, uncle, or grandparent, should that relative's income be reported instead of parental information?

Only if the relative is your adoptive parent. Dependent students are considered dependent only on their parent(s) and must report only parental information on the FAFSA. You must report (in Worksheet B) any cash support given by relatives, but not in-kind support (such as food and housing) from relatives.

If I am in the National Guard or am an active duty military member, am I considered a veteran for purposes of filling out the FAFSA?

If you were a member of the National Guard or were a Reservist called to active duty for purposes other than training and were released under a condition other than dishonorable, you are considered a veteran for FAFSA purposes.

If you are on active duty in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard, but will be a veteran by the end of the academic year (June 30), you are considered a veteran for FAFSA purposes. If your active duty will continue past June 30, however, you are not considered a veteran for FAFSA purposes.

I'll be filing a tax return this year but I probably won't get around to it until April. How should I answer the financial questions on the FAFSA? Should I wait to fill out this form until after I've filed my tax return?

Ideally, you should complete a FAFSA after you've done your tax return, but don't wait until April. Many colleges award aid on a first-come, first-served basis. Also, you may not be eligible for state aid if you wait until April to submit your FAFSA. Many state aid deadlines are early in the calendar year. If you haven't submitted your tax return, you should calculate your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) and taxes paid using the instructions for IRS Form 1040. You can get the instructions and the form at a public library or download them in Portable Document Format (PDF) from

If my parents are divorced, whose information do I need?

The parent with whom you lived with the most during the 12 months preceding the date you completed the FAFSA. If you did not live with either parent or lived equally with each parent, the parental information must be provided for the parent from whom you received the most financial support during the preceding 12 months, or the parent from whom you received the most support the last time support was given.

I am entering financial information for my mother and stepfather on the FAFSA. Should I give my biologicial father's Social Security Number (SSN) and last name, or my stepfather's?

You should provide the SSN and last name of the same person or people for whom you are reporting financial information. In this case, provide the SSNs and names of your mother and stepfather.

What should I (the student) do if my family has special circumstances that aren't mentioned in the application?

Talk to your college's financial aid officer (FAO). If your family's circumstances have changed from the base year due to loss of employment, loss of benefits, death, or divorce, the FAO may decide to adjust data elements used to calculate your Expected Family Contribution. The adjustment may increase your eligibility for student aid.

How does a family decide who should be counted in the household size?

Anyone in the immediate family who receives more than 50% support from a dependent student's parents, or an independent student and spouse may be counted in the household size even if that person does not reside in the house. For example, a sibling who is over 24 but still receives the majority of his/her support from the parents can be included. Siblings who are dependent (as defined by the FAFSA) as of the date you apply for aid are also included, regardless of whether they receive more than 50% of their support from the parents. Any other person who resides in the household and receives more than 50% support from the parents may also be counted, as long as they will continue to reside with your parents and the support is expected to continue through the end of the upcoming academic year. An unborn child who will be born during the award year may also be counted in the household size.

Household size and tax exemptions are not necessarily the same. Exemptions look at the previous year or tax year and household size refers to the school year for which the student is applying for financial aid.

My parents separated four months ago. I live with my father. My parents filed a joint tax return and claimed me as an exemption. Do I report both their incomes, or just my father's?

Report only your father's income and asset information because you lived with him the most during the past 12 months.

If I (the student) am separated but filed a joint tax return, how is the information reported?

You should give only your portion of the exemptions, income, and taxes paid.

Who qualifies to be counted in the number in college?

Any person (other than your parents) who is counted in the household and will be attending any term of the academic year at least half time can be counted as the "numberi college". The person must be working toward a degree or certificate leading to a recognized education credential at a postsecondary school eligible to participate in the federal student aid programs. You (the student) need not be enrolled half time to be counted in the number in college.

What if I don't get a SAR Acknowledgement or SAR (Student Aid Report), or I need another copy of that form?

If you do not receive your SAR Acknowledgement within two weeks or SAR within four weeks after submitting your FAFSA application, call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243). If you have a touch-tone phone, you can use the automated system to find out whether your application has been processed or to request duplicate copies of your report. You will need to provide your Social Security Number and the first two letters of your last name. You can also check the status of your FAFSA and print a copy of your SAR at

If you file your FAFSA online, you will get a confirmation notice after you click on "Submit My FAFSA Now". If you submitted a paper FAFSA and you want confirmation it was received, complete and send in the postcard that comes along with the application. The postcard will be stamped by the processor, upon receipt, with the date of its receipt, and will be sent back to you. Either of these actions will at least let you know that your application was received.



Important Note

Blindly filling out your FAFSA Application can cost you thousands of dollars in lost financial aid! Before submitting your forms, it's critical you take the necessary time to become an educated and informed financial aid consumer.

To give yourself the best possible chance of obtaining maximum funding for college, a recommended resource is "The No B.S. Guide To Getting Maximum College Financial Aid". Details can be found at

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