FAFSA Document Examples And Explanations

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You’ll need your actual permanent resident card (not just your approval) to receive aid.

Are you gearing up to apply for the FAFSA, but have questions on some of the documents you’ll need (like what are they and where can you find them)? We’ve got you covered.

For first-time filers, first-generation college students, or frankly, anyone who isn’t an accountant, we’ve provided some FAFSA document examples to help you complete your application in a snap.


Making Life a Little Easier: 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 is a useful tool for all students, but especially those who are nervous about completing the FAFSA! The DRT will simplify the FAFSA process, removing the need to sift through IRS documents to find the information you’ll need to complete the FAFSA.

Permanent Resident And Alien Registration Number

If you are not a U.S. Citizen, but a permanent resident, you should have been issued a Permanent Resident Card. A Permanent Resident Card also goes by the names of immigrant visa, green card, permanent visa, and form I-551.

You can see an example of the newest Permanent Resident Card at the top of this post. You’ll need this in hand or have other concrete proof of your status. The USCIS number on the card will be your Alien Registration Number, and this is what you’ll use to complete the FAFSA citizenship requirement.

Tax Returns

If you do not qualify to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool mentioned above, you’ll have to gather your tax return documents and apply the old-fashioned way. Not to worry—these forms are pretty straightforward!

If you are a dependent, you’ll need either a form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ for yourself (if you’ve filed a tax return) and for both of your parents (just one form if they filed jointly). These forms are given to you after you’ve filed your taxes. If you used a firm (like H&R Block) or software (like TurboTax), then you should have been given a summary of your filed tax returns. Below are examples of what these forms look like:

Untaxed Income

Untaxed income could come from a variety of sources, so it’s hard to pin down to a specific definition.

Here are some examples of untaxed income:

  • Workers compensation
  • Child support
  • Disability income
  • Social Security income
  • Veterans non-educational benefits (disability, death pension, etc.)

When you or your parents receive this kind of income, there are usually official documents that state how much you have received or will be receiving in a given year.

You can use the information within those documents for the FAFSA. Just be sure to save copies of them—you  might need to present those documents if you are selected for verification or if you are instructed by your school to complete the CSS profile.

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: Wikipedia)

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