Filing The FAFSA
(FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid)
- Paperwork needed to fill out the FAFSA
- Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
- Student dependency
- Citizenship and Financial Aid
- Estimating Tax Information
- IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT)
- Common FAFSA mistakes
Financial aid consists of federal, state and institutional funds such as grants, loans, work-study and scholarships. To apply for these funds, students must complete the online Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the applicable aid year. This must be done each year.
Please note that the FAFSA is a free service. You should never pay to fill out a FAFSA. If you encounter issues or have questions regarding this process, please contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The FAFSA application requires a federal school code. The UTSA federal school code is 010115.
Financial aid is typically awarded for both the fall and spring semesters. The FAFSA is available for each aid year between January 1 and the following June 30th. For 2015-2016, the FAFSA is available January 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016. The priority deadline to submit your FAFSA application to UTSA for fall applicants is March 15.
If you wish to be awarded for the summer, you must have a Summer Application submitted in addition to completing the FAFSA. The Summer Application is available on ASAP each year. Check out the Summer Financial Aid page for information on priority deadlines.
In order to fill out the FAFSA, you will typically need
- Your social security number and/or alien registration number
- Your previous year's W2s and any other records of money earned such as 1099s
- Your (and your parents' if dependent or spouse's if married) previous year's federal income tax returns
- Any untaxed income records
It is possible to estimate your earnings using an end of year pay stub if you have not yet filed taxes for the applicable aid year. Keep in mind that you must estimate as accurately as possible. Once you have filed your taxes, you must update your FAFSA with the actual tax information. The Department of Education is making it easier than ever to update your FAFSA with filed tax data by allowing students to link to the IRS from their FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT). In most cases, the IRS DRT is not available until 2-3 weeks after the return has been accepted by the IRS.
When applying for student aid, the information you report on the FAFSA is used to calculate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The formula used is established by law and measures your family's financial strength on the basis of your family's income, assets, family size, and number in college. The EFC is not an amount you are required to pay to UTSA, but rather is a figure that is determined that you and your parents can contribute towards your education over the course of a year.
The EFC is used to determine your eligibility for federal aid as well as state and institutional aid. The Cost of Attendance (COA or budget) listed on your award letter is also used to help determine your financial need in conjunction with the EFC using this formula:
Cost of Attendance
-- Expected Family Contribution
= Financial Need
Your eligibility for need-based aid is determined by subtracting other outside financial assistance (such as scholarships, tuition exemptions, etc.) from the calculated need. Students are not allowed to exceed their cost of attendance.
Some students are considered independent and may file the FAFSA without including parental information. In order to qualify for independent status, you must be able to answer "yes" to one of the following questions and be able to provide documentation
- Were you born before January 1, 1992 (for 2015-2016)?
- As of today, are you married? (also answer "yes" if you are separated but not divorced)
- At the beginning of 2015-2016, will you be working on a Master's or Doctoral degree?
- Are you currently serving on active duty in the US Armed Forces for purposes other than training?
- Are you a veteran of the US Armed Forces?
- Do you have children who will receive more than half of your support between July 1, 2015 and June 20, 2016?
- Do you have other dependents who will receive more than half of your support between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016?*
- At any time since you turned the age of 13, were both of your parents deceased, or were you in foster care or a dependent or ward of the court?*
- As determined by a court, were you legally declared an emancipated minor?*
- As determined by a court, are you or were you placed under guardianship?*
- At any time on or after July 1, 2014, did your high school or school district homeless liaison determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?*
- At any time on or after July 1, 2014, did the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?*
- At any time on or after July 1, 2014, 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?*
*Will require documentation prior to disbursement to prove independent status.
If you cannot answer yes to one or more of the questions listed above, you will be considered a dependent student for FAFSA filing purposes regardless if you demonstrate total self-sufficiency. Occasionally, an unusual circumstance may exist that may warrant a review of a student's dependent status. You may review our Request for Independent Status procedures for more information.
All US citizens and certain eligible non-citizens (such as permanent residents) can apply for financial aid using the FAFSA. The FAFSA is used to award federal, state and institutional funds at UTSA.
In certain cases, students who are residents of Texas but are not US citizens or permanent residents may qualify for state aid through the Texas Application for State Financial Aid (TASFA).This is in accordance with Texas House Bill 1403 as passed by the 77th Texas Legislature in 2001. Students who meet this criteria do not qualify for federal aid. Please visit our HB1403 webpage for more information about applying for state aid.
International students may apply for a limited pool of grant funds through a separate application process. For more information, please visit our International Aid Programs webpage.
Students and their families may go ahead and submit the FAFSA as early as January 1st with estimated figures. To do this, choose the “Will File” option on the question inquiring if you have completed a tax return for the previous year. Nevertheless, all students submitting a FAFSA must go back and change any “Will file” statements with accurate information as soon as possible by making corrections to a processed FAFSA at www.fafsa.gov. If students fail to make corrections to their FAFSA by utilizing the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) students will instead be asked to provide a copy of tax transcripts.
The IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) allows students and parents to access IRS tax return information and transfer it directly into their FAFSA. You are ineligible to use the DRT if you (or your parents) are married but filed separately or if your marital status has changed as of January 1. We highly recommend using this tool if you are eligible for several reasons:
- It's the easiest way to provide tax data
- It's the best way to ensure your FAFSA has accurate tax information
- You won't need to provide a copy of your or your parents tax returns if selected for verification
Those who filed ammended tax returns are ineligible to use the IRS DRT. You will need to submit a copy of your amended tax return to our office. If you do not have a copy of your tax return, you may request a tax account transcript from www.irs.gov.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an electronic application provided by the US Department of Education that evaluates the student's (and their spouse or parents) financial strength to pay for college. The FAFSA is a FREE application. You should never be asked to pay a fee to fill out the FAFSA. Below is a listing of the most commonly made mistakes on the FAFSA. Familiarize yourself with these so that you have accurate answers to your FAFSA questions. If you have a specific frequently asked questions, the Department of Education allows you to search their FAQs.
You must use your legal name (look to your Social Security Card) on the FAFSA rather than nicknames.
One of the most common mistakes on the FAFSA is when the Social Security numbers and dates of birth for the parents are not included. Leaving this information blank will cause the FAFSA to be rejected. If parents do not have a Social Security Number, use 000-00-0000.
Who Completes the FAFSA
Remember the FAFSA application assumes the student is completing the FAFSA. For example, if a parent is completing the FAFSA, remember that the word ‘you’ refers to the student.
Instead of leaving an income question blank, you should indicate a Zero.
Answers without Cents
Dollar amounts should not include cents. Do not indicate one hundred dollars as 100.00 as the FAFSA will read that 10,000.
This refers to the marital status (student and/or parents) at the moment the FAFSA is filled. If someone is separated but still married, then the answer to Marital Status should be ‘Yes’.
Most students under the age of 24 will have to indicate dependent status. Please read this portion of your FAFSA application carefully and call the Office of Student Financial Aid and Enrollment Services if you have additional questions or believe you qualify for independent status.
Number in Household and College
Read this part carefully and remember to include yourself as a person in college (you will be for the coming year!). If you are a dependent student and your parent is attending college, you cannot include your parent in the number in household attending college.
Errors Involving Taxes, Worksheets, and Assets
If you are eligible, use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to automatically transfer IRS income information to the FAFSA. It's quick and easy! If you must fill in this information manually, be extremely careful with these areas. Read all information closely. This can be a confusing part of the FAFSA. If you have questions about how to fill some of these questions out, please feel free to contact us and we are happy to help.
On-Campus versus Off-Campus versus With Parents
The answer to this question will impact your financial aid award letter. Answer "On-Campus" if you intend to live at the University. Answer "Off Campus" if you intend to live away from your parent's household but not at the University. Answer "With Parents" if you intend to live away from campus but with a parent or relative.