There’s no denying the fact that college tuition is expensive. The good news is that federal financial aid is available to students and their parents. So if you or your child has plans of attending college in the future, at some point you’ll probably fill out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). This application determines what type of federal grants and loans a student can get based on their income or their parents’ income. For this reason, FAFSA will ask for up-to-date tax information. But what if you or your parents haven’t filed taxes for the year yet? Can you still submit an application? Here’s how to fill out a FAFSA without a tax return.
Can you get financial aid without filing taxes. The short answer is yes.
The deadline for a FAFSA is June 30. You can submit applications online, and it’s recommended that students or their parents submit these forms as soon as possible to know their financial aid options earlier in the year.
The deadline to file tax returns in the U.S. is around April 15 each year. Some people, however, don’t file by this deadline, but request an extension to file later in the year.
If you or your parents are approved for an extension, don’t think that this will put the brakes on completing a FAFSA. You’re allowed to complete this application and get the ball rolling even if you don’t have an updated tax return. Even so, you’ll still need to provide tax information on the FAFSA because the Department of Federal Student Aid needs your household income to determine eligibility for different programs.
In this case, you must provide placeholder information and include your tax information from the previous year. For this to work, your previous year’s income must be roughly the same as this year’s income.
Along with placeholder information, a student or their parents are required to submit a late December paycheck stub from the previous year, which has year-to-date income information.
You must also indicate on the FAFSA that submitted information is an estimate.
Be mindful of the fact that you’re also required to update the FAFSA with accurate information once taxes have been filed for the year.
Updating previously submitted information is fairly easy. When you initially completed an online application, you were prompted to create a user account with an ID and password.
Therefore, once you file taxes and have accurate tax information, simply log into your account at Fafsa.ed.gov. After logging in, choose the link “Make FAFSA corrections.”
From here, update your tax information using the IRS data retrieval tool and download your information into the application. Sign your corrected FAFSA before exiting the site. Online corrections are processed within 3 to 5 days, at which point you’ll receive a new Student Aid Report.
If a tax return wasn’t filed because you or your parents didn’t have income to report, you may wonder if you can still submit a FAFSA. The good news is that even though the FAFSA will request tax information, income isn’t required to qualify for aid.
Tax information is required to assess whether you’re eligible for need-based aid, which is based on household income. If there’s no income to report for the year, there’s no need to file taxes. In fact, the application takes into account that some people will apply for aid without income. You can choose the option “not going to file” on your FAFSA in the section regarding tax information.
When asked about income, simply put “zero.” Keep in mind that you’ll have to contact the IRS and request a verification of non-filing, which you might be asked to submit to the Department of Federal Student Aid. This verification is necessary to ensure that you’re not unlawfully choosing to skip filing a tax return.
If you’re required to file taxes but choose not to, you will not qualify for federal student aid. In this situation, you would have to pay for college tuition out of your own pocket, or look into private lending solutions.