Gathering Documents for the FAFSA

What personal information will I need?

You need the following personal information:

Your Social Security number

Social Security numbers for one or both parents

Your driver’s license, if you have one

Permanent resident cards, if you or your parents are not U.S. citizens

What financial information will I need?

You need the following information:

Your parents’ tax records, if you are dependent on one or both of them

A copy of your parents’ foreign tax return, if they live outside the United States

Your own tax records, if you filed returns in the past

Records of untaxed income in your family like Social Security, welfare benefits, or veterans benefits

Do I need the actual Social Security cards?

Not necessarily, but it is important that the names and numbers on your FAFSA form match the U.S. government’s tax records. If you don’t have the cards, look at the names and numbers entered on your parents’ tax returns. Match those exactly and you should be in good shape. Exception: If your parent is not a U.S. citizen, they may have an Individual Tax Identification Number (typically starting with 9). Contact FAFSA for instructions.

What are tax records?

These include annual tax returns (IRS 1040) and employer W-2 forms. You should use the tax forms your parents have filed with the IRS. Be sure to get the whole form, including the 1040 and all of the attached schedules. Students entering or returning to college in September 2023 will use their family’s 2021 tax records.

Whose tax records will I need?

If you live with both parents, you will be using your family’s tax forms. If you live mostly with one parent, use that parent’s tax forms. There may be special steps if you live with relatives or live independently of your parents. (The FAFSA form may ask for the income information of your biological or adoptive parents, even though you may live with or rely on others. Click here to learn more.) If you have any questions, it’s important that you call the FAFSA hotline or talk to a counselor.

Which tax returns do I use?

Students and families use the tax returns already on file with the IRS to fill out the FAFSA form. (Planning to start college September 2022 or later? You will use your family’s 2020 tax return for the FAFSA.) This makes it easier to fill out the FAFSA, but COVID-19 has had a huge impact on family finances. You may deserve more aid. If circumstances have changed, contact your colleges and give them the latest information.

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