Documents Needed for the FAFSA and Other Financial Aid Forms

on November 17, 2016

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is based on income and tax information from the prior-prior year federal income tax return, current asset information and current demographic information. Gathering certain documents in advance will make filing the FAFSA easier.

Keep a copy of these documents, in case you need them later. Some applicants are selected for “verification” each year. These applicants will need to provide copies of the source documentation for one or more data elements from the FAFSA.

Referring to these documents when completing the FAFSA can help avoid errors. For example, the student’s name on the FAFSA must match the student’s legal name on the Social Security Card, or the FAFSA will fail a data match with the Social Security Administration (SSA).

This checklist will help you identify the documents you will need to complete the FAFSA and other financial aid application forms. Records may be required of both the student and parents, if the student is dependent, or the student and the student’s spouse, if the student is married. If the student’s parents are divorced, the stepparent’s tax records will also be required if the custodial parent has remarried as of the date the FAFSA is filed.


Proof of Identity
  • Student’s Social Security Card or Alien Registration Card, as appropriate
  • Parent’s Social Security Card, if any. If the parent is not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, enter 000-00-0000 instead of a Social Security Number
  • Student’s FSA ID and Parent’s FSA ID. The parent should not create a FSA ID for the student and vice versa, as this can cause problems
  • Student’s Driver’s License (optional)
Tax Records for the Prior-Prior Year
  • W-2 and 1099 forms and other records of money earned. These forms may be required for the FAFSA and for verification.
  • Federal income tax returns, such as IRS Form 1040, IRS Form 1040A and IRS Form 1040EZ. Although most families will be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to transfer information from federal income tax returns to the FAFSA, not everybody will be able to use the tool. Foreign income tax returns may be required, as well as income tax returns from Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of Palau.
Records of Untaxed Income
  • Child support received
  • Tax exempt interest income
  • Veterans non-education benefits
  • Untaxed portions of IRA and pension distributions, excluding rollovers
  • Untaxed disability benefits and workers compensation
Exclusions from income
  • Student aid Included in adjusted gross income (AGI), such as the taxable portion of scholarships and fellowships, AmeriCorps benefits and taxable earnings from Federal Work-Study
  • Child support paid
  • Combat pay

Records of Assets

  • Most recent bank and brokerage account statements
  • Cash, savings and checking account balances
  • Records of stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other investments
  • Business, farm, and other real estate records, including any mortgages


It is also useful to have a list of the colleges the student is interested in attending and documentation related to unusual financial circumstances, such as unreimbursed medical and dental expenses, private K-12 tuition bills, high dependent care costs, job loss, death and divorce.


If there have been recent changes in account balances, print out the current account balance from the bank or brokerage’s web site. This may help with verification, since the most recent account statements might differ significantly from the current balances as of the date the FAFSA is filed.

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