Frequently Asked Questions from the 2011 Applying for Student Financial Aid Webinar

Completing the FAFSA & TASFA, February 10, 2011


Part 1: Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

 

1. Where do I apply for my PIN?
You can obtain a Personal Identification Number at the following website:
www.pin.ed.gov

2. Is it too late to complete the FAFSA during the summer before I go to college?
No, it is not too late to complete the FAFSA in the summer. In fact, you can apply for financial aid at any time during the school year. However, your chances of obtaining the most favorable sources of aid are best when you meet the school’s deadlines, which are traditionally in the months of February & March.

3. Where can I find the FAFSA online?
You can complete a FREE FAFSA online at the following website: www.fafsa.gov

4. Is it okay if I complete a paper FAFSA?
Yes, you may complete a paper FAFSA. However, financial aid experts recommend that you complete your FAFSA Online. By filing the FAFSA online, you will reduce the processing time plus you are less likely to make errors with the FAFSA online. The FAFSA online has edits built into its system that help you avoid mistakes.

5. I’m a parent and have two children in college. Can I use the same FAFSA?
No, parents cannot use the same FAFSA. Parents who have more than one (1) child attending college are required to file a FAFSA for each child. However, please note that the 2011-2012 FAFSA online has a new feature that allows parents to transfer their data to a new application for an additional child or children.
When the parent electronically signs the first FAFSA for his/her child, the parent will at that point be given the opportunity to take advantage of this new feature to reuse data that he/she has entered.

6. My parents are divorced and I live with my mom. She has remarried. What information do I report?
In this instance, the student should use his mom’s tax information plus her mom’s new spouse’s tax information to file her FAFSA. Also, if the student works, then she is also required to provide her tax information on the FAFSA.

7. I’m a student and work part-time. Do I have to file a tax return?
Students who earn enough money to meet the IRS’s threshold to file taxes are required to complete a tax return. The minimum threshold established by the IRS for 2010 is $9350. This means that most individuals, regardless of U.S. citizenship and who make at least this amount in annual earnings, are required to file a tax return with the IRS. For more information, go to www.irs.gov

8. Why if my parents are unemployed? Does the FAFSA take this into account?
Yes, the FAFSA does take into account if your parents are unemployed. There is a question on the FAFSA that will specifically ask you if your parents are a “dislocated worker”. Your answer to this question, will directly impact your eligibility for financial aid.

9. The FAFSA requires that I use my parent’s tax information, but I don’t know where they are?
If you do not know where to locate your parents, check that box that indicates you will submit the FAFSA without parental information. You will need to talk to a financial aid counselor at the university where you plan to attend. The financial aid counselor will assess your situation, including determining your status, and provide guidance on additional information or documents that may be necessary to complete the financial aid process.

10. If I have questions once I start filling out my FAFSA, who can I call?
For questions about how to fill out the FAFSA, you can call the Texas Financial Aid Information Center at 1-888-311-8881. Also, for more information, go to www.studentaid.ed.gov/competefafsa or call 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243)

 

Part 2: Completing the Texas Application for State Financial Aid (TASFA)

 

1. My mother and I live with my brother and he pays for our living expenses. Do I use my brother’s tax information to complete the TASFA?
In this instance, the student will not use her brother’s tax information. Instead, the correct way to file the TASFA is by using her mother’s tax information. For purposes of completing the TASFA, the student is considered a dependent student and is therefore required to report her parent’s income. If her parents do not work, then she will indicate on the TASFA that her parents do not work and do not file taxes.
Also, because she lives with her brother and he pays for all of her living expenses, then the student will need to sum up the amount of help that she gets from her brother (e.g. food, bills) and report that amount as Untaxed Income on #30 of the TASFA.

2. Where can I get a copy of the Affidavit that is required by Senate Bill 1528 to qualify for in-state tuition?
The Affidavit can be downloaded at THECB’s College for all Texans website at the link below. The Affidavit will be the last page of the ‘Residency Questionnaire’ that appears at this link:
http://www.collegefortexans.com/index.cfm?ObjectID=6D1466D9-AEA5-DE00-C12F3F75E7367718

Also, students may check with the admissions office where they plan to attend in order to obtain the Affidavit.

3. I support my family and have filed as “head of household”. My parents do not work. Do I use my tax return to complete the TASFA?
In this instance, the student will complete the TASFA using his tax information plus his parents tax information. If the parents do not work as indicated by this example, then the student will still file the TASFA as a dependent student and mark on the TASFA that his parents will not file. The student and one of the parents will need to sign the TASFA as well.

4. My parents get paid in cash. Where do I report this amount?
If your parents get paid in cash and the amount that they earned is not sufficient to file taxes, then that amount should be reported on Question 31 of the TASFA.

5. My parents live out of the country and do not support me. I live with my aunt. Do I use my aunt’s tax information?
This is an example of a situation that will require that the student speak to a financial aid counselor at the university that he/she plans to attend. The financial aid counselor can assess the student’s economic situation and exercise his/her professional judgment to make a determination on how the student can complete the TASFA.
Before meeting with the financial aid counselor, the student can go ahead and begin filling out the TASFA and answering all the questions pertaining to him/her. Also, the student should be ready to provide some type of documentation that accounts for all the financial assistance that the student receives from his/her aunt.

6. What happens after I submit my TASFA?
After the student mails the TASFA to the financial aid office, it is recommended that the student follow-up with the university’s financial aid office to confirm that the application was received. Also, the student should keep checking regularly to find out if additional documentation is required.
Not all universities will contact the student if a document is missing, so make sure to call and check on your application regularly.

7. If I have questions once I start filling out the TASFA, who can I call?
If you have questions about completing the TASFA, you can call the Texas Financial Aid Information Center at 1-(888) - 311-8881. Customer service representatives are available to answer questions in both English and Spanish and they are available Monday thru Friday.

 

Questions from participants:

 

1. How do students file if they are married, pregnant, but live with parents? The husband doesn't live with her.
If the student is married and she is expecting a baby, the student can file the FAFSA or TASFA as an independent student. That means that the student will not need her parents signature nor will she need to include her parents tax information.
However, the student will need to report her income if she works. And she will also be required to account for all aid that her parents give her. For instance, if her parents pay her rent, pay for her meals or pay any other bills on her behalf, then she will need to add up that amount and report it as Untaxed Income on the appropriate question on the FAFSA (or TASFA (Question 30), whichever is applicable
.
Another important factor to remember in this situation is the baby. Even thought the baby is not born yet, the student can count the baby as a member of the household in the question that asks about the number in the household.
2. Where can counselors and/or students download the Affidavit required for SB 1528 students? The Affidavit can be downloaded at THECB’s College for all Texans website at the link below. The Affidavit will be the last page of the ‘Residency Questionnaire’ that appears at this link:
http://www.collegefortexans.com/index.cfm?ObjectID=6D1466D9-AEA5-DE00-C12F3F75E7367718

3. What is the income limit established by the IRS for requiring individuals to file taxes? According to the IRS’s 2010 guidelines, the income limit for filing taxes is $9,350. This means that most individuals, regardless of U.S. citizenship and who make at least this amount in annual earnings, are required to file a tax return with the IRS. For more information, go to www.irs.gov

4. Parent owns small business. What constitutes a small business and how does owning impact application? The FAFSA does not require that the value of a small business be reported in instances where the family owns more than 50% of the business and the business has 100 or less full-time or full-time equivalent employees.
In cases where the business meets the minimum employee requirement (greater than 100 employees), the parent must report the value of that business. In calculating the estimated family contribution of the student, the value of the business will be taken into consideration and it may impact the amount of aid that the student receives.

5. How secure is website with sensitive information. Students and parents are afraid of people getting access to it? The FAFSA online website is very secure. The website fafsa.gov is provided by the U.S. Department of Education and therefore required to adhere to strict information security requirements. However, keep in mind that the student also has the responsibility to keep their Personal Identification Number in a secure place and not share it with anybody to avoid others viewing his information.

6. What if student gets married prior to the June 30th deadline, but the parent completed the FAFSA before marriage. Can they change information in June? Students whose marital status changes after they have filed the FAFSA, will need to speak to a financial aid counselor at the college that they are attending. The financial aid administrator will make the determination as to whether their status can be changed in mid-year.

7. What are the scholarship websites that were mentioned in the webinar?
Students are encouraged to search and apply for scholarships. Here are just some of the numerous search engines that you can use to find scholarships.

www.fastweb.com
www.aie.org
www.finaid.org

 

Please note: For the most current information on completing the FAFSA, please visit www.fafsa.ed.gov. Also, The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has provided this resource for determining whether prospective students should complete the FAFSA or the TASFA.


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