One of the most important steps to take before sitting down to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is to gather up all of the documents that you’ll need to fill out the application. Depending on your situation, this could be a simple process or a lengthy one.
We’ve all been there; you know you remember seeing that form somewhere … but where? (Side note: Why aren’t things ever where you think you last saw them?) All lost forms aside, we’ve listed three helpful tips for finding the FAFSA documents you’ll need to apply.
1. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool
The IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT for short) is a newer feature for the FAFSA that allows you to automatically transfer data from your filed tax returns into your financial aid application. This tool makes it so that you don’t have to sort through tax return documents and limits the risk entering information incorrectly. Not everyone will be able to use the DRT.
2. Your Tax Professional Or Income Tax Software
Did you or your parents use an income tax preparation software or hire a professional to file your taxes? If so, either the software or the professional should have a copy of your tax return forms.
Additionally, employers are legally required to provide you with a W-2 before January 31. If you haven’t received your W-2 or need another copy, contact the employer ASAP. You’ll also receive 1099 forms (miscellaneous income) from any organization from which you’ve earned income sans permanent employment. .
3.You Don’t Need The Forms For Numbers You Know
The FAFSA asks for some information such as your Social Security number, alien registration number (for permanent residents), your driver’s license number, etc. Many times, you’ll know these numbers or have other documents that have these numbers on them. So, needless to say, you don’t need to have, for example, your Social Security card so long as you know your Social Security number.
For more on what documents and information you will need to complete the FAFSA, check out our short (but helpful!) video What Do I Need For The FAFSA?
(Photo: IRS EIN)