FAFSA Checklist

Before completing the 2020-2021 FAFSA, please review these questions to determine if you are a dependent or independent student for financial aid purposes only. The 2021-2022 checklist is being posted soon.

For 2020-2021 FAFSA Applicants:

  1. Were you born before January 1, 1996?
  2. During the school year 2020-2021, will you be working on a Master’s or doctorate program (such as a MA, MBA, MD, JD, PhD, EdD, or graduate certificate, etc.)?
  3. As of today, are you married? (Answer “YES” if you are separated but not divorced.)
  4. Do you have children who receive more than half of their support from you between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021?
  5. Do you have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half or their support from you, now and through June 30, 2021?
  6. At any time since you turned 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care or were you a dependent or ward of the court?
  7. Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces?
  8. Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Services for purposes other than training?
  9. Are you or were you an emancipated minor as determined by a court in your state of legal residence? (Copy of court decision may be requested)
  10. Are you or were you in legal guardianship as determined by a court in your state of legal residence? (Copy of court decision may be requested)
    For questions 11 through 13, use the following instructions; ("Unaccompanied" means you are not living in the physical custody of your parents or guardian, "Youth" means that you are 21 years of age or younger, "Homeless" means lacking a fixed, regular or adequate housing, which includes living shelters, motels, cars, etc.)
  11. At any time on or after July 1, 2019, did your high school or school district homeless liaison determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?
  12. At any time on or after July 1, 2019 did the Director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program (funded by Federal Government) determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?
  13. At any time on or after July 1, 2019, did the Director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self supporting and at risk of being homeless?

NOTE: If you answered “YES” to at least one of these questions, you are considered an independent student.

If you answered “NO” to all questions, you are considered a dependent student; therefore, you need your parent’s information to complete the FAFSA.

Your FAFSA Checklist:

Your Social Security card and driver’s license, and/or alien registration card if you are not a US citizen.

Your federal income tax returns, W-2s, and other records of money earned. (The IRS Data Retrieval Tool can help you transfer your federal tax return information right into your FAFSA form.)

Your parents' income tax returns, W-2 forms and 1040 forms if you are a dependent.  (The IRS Data Retrieval Tool can help transfer your parents' federal tax return information right into your FAFSA form.)

Records and documentation of other nontaxable income received such as welfare benefits, Social Security income, veteran’s benefits, military or clergy allowances (if applicable).

Any additional applicable financial information, such as taxable work-study, assistant-ships, fellowships, grants and scholarship aid reported to the IRS, combat pay or special combat pay and cooperative education program earnings.

Records of any additional nontaxable income: Examples include: child support received, veterans’ non-education benefits, money received or paid on your behalf, etc.

Current bank and brokerage account statements, including records of stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other investments (if applicable).

Business or investment farm records (if applicable).

Records relating to any unusual family financial circumstances. This can include anything that changed from last year or anything that separates your family from a "typical" family in terms of unusual marital situations, living situations, separations, etc. Examples include: high non-reimbursed medical and/or dental expenses, unusually high dependent care costs (e.g., for a special needs child or an elderly parent), death, divorce, salary reductions, job loss and private K-12 tuition.

Title IV Institution Codes for each school you are applying to. You can get this code from the school (some have them listed on their web sites) or you can use FinAid's Title IV School Code Database.

When filling out and submitting your FAFSA electronically, you’ll need an FSA ID to sign the form. If you don’t have one, you can create a FSA ID online. If you are applying as a dependent - again, you are a dependent unless declared otherwise - one parent is required to sign as well. To electronically fill out your FAFSA online, your parent should also apply for a FAFSA ID at the same site.

Download the Department of Education's 2020 - 21 FAFSA information sheet during your preparation process, to doubly ensure you have all of the information you need.

Use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. If you've already filed your federal income tax returns, it will pre-fill the answers to some of the more difficult FAFSA questions by transferring the necessary data directly from federal income tax returns.

If you are a man, 25 years or younger, you must be registered with Selective Service. According to the Selective Service System website, “men, born after December 31, 1960, who aren't registered with Selective Service won't qualify for Federal student loans or grant programs. This includes Federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), Direct Stafford Loans/Plus Loans, National Direct Student Loans, and College Work Study.” Make sure to ensure your eligibility by following the guidelines detailed on the Selective Service System website!


Last Modified: 2/24/21