If you plan to pursue post-secondary education and hope to receive financial aid from the U.S. government, you need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, typically called FAFSA. The form asks for a range of financial information to determine how much need-based aid you can receive. Students over the age of 24, those who are married or those who are pursuing a graduate degree are independent and do not have to report their parent's financial information on the FAFSA. You are also independent if you have dependents or children or have served in the military.
Report your income from the previous tax year on the FAFSA for the upcoming school year. Use your 2011 tax return when completing the 2012-2013 school year FAFSA, for example. You must disclose your adjusted gross income as well as all the income you earned from working. If you are married, report your spouse's income too, even if you were not married during the tax year. Also report the amount of tax you paid and the number of exemptions you claimed. The FAFSA requires you to report tax-deductible income you received, such as the amount you contributed to a traditional IRA or pension plan, as well as money a friend or relative might have given you during the year.
Amount in Savings
Add up the total amount in the bank accounts you and your spouse, if you are married, own. You only need to figure the amount in savings and checking accounts on the day you complete the FAFSA. Do not worry about the need to report future amounts in your accounts. Also include the amount of cash you have on hand in this section. If you have student aid in your savings account, such as the amount from a loan that you have not used to pay for school yet, do not include it.
You must report your assets on the FAFSA, both your personal investments and any investments your business owns. Real estate you own counts as an investment, unless it is the house you live in. Rental properties and second homes must be included. Other investments that you must list include any 529 plans you own, any trust funds you own and stocks you own. Report the net worth of your investments, meaning the value minus any debt you owe on the asset.
Include the amount of any financial support or credits you received throughout the year on line 43 of the FAFSA. Report the amount of any educational credits, such as the Hope Credit or American Opportunity Credit, on line 43a. If you earned money from a work-study program, report that amount on line 43c. Also report any taxable scholarship or grant money you earned during the year on line 43d.
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