Office of Student Financial Assistance

What are the acceptable forms of verification of tax information?

Please download the year specific Verification of Tax Information below.

Common problems with Dependency Status

What makes a student independent?

  • Dependency status is determined based on 13 questions on the FAFSA.
  • You should be prepared to provide documentation to any question for which you answer “Yes.”

For 2017-2018, those questions are:

  • Were you born before Jan. 1, 1994?
  • As of today, are you married? (Also answer “Yes” if you are separated but not divorced.)
  • At the beginning of the 2017–18 school year, will you be working on a master’s or doctorate program (such as an M.A., M.B.A., M.D., J.D., Ph.D., Ed.D., graduate certificate, etc.)?
  • Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. armed forces for purposes other than training? (If you are a National Guard or Reserves enlistee, are you on active duty for other than state or training purposes?)
  • Are you a veteran of the U.S. armed forces?*
  • Do you now have—or will you have—children who will receive more than half of their support from you between July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2018?
  • Do you have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half of their support from you, now and through June 30, 2018?
  • At any time since you turned age 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care, or were you a dependent or ward of the court?
  • Has it been determined by a court in your state of legal residence that you are an emancipated minor or that someone other than your parent or stepparent has legal guardianship of you? (You also should answer “Yes” if you are now an adult but were in legal guardianship or were an emancipated minor immediately before you reached the age of being an adult in your state. Answer “No” if the court papers say “custody” rather than “guardianship.”)
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2016, were you determined to be an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless, as determined by (a) your high school or district homeless liaison, (b) the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or (c) the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program?**

* Answer No (you are not a veteran) if you (1) have never engaged in active duty (including basic training) in the U.S. armed forces, (2) are currently a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) student or a cadet or midshipman at a service academy, (3) are a National Guard or Reserves enlistee activated only for state or training purposes, or (4) were engaged in active duty in the U.S. armed forces but released under dishonorable conditions. Also answer No if you are currently serving in the U.S. armed forces and will continue to serve through June 30, 2017.

**If you do not have a determination that you are homeless, but you believe you are an unaccompanied youth who is homeless or self-supporting and at risk of being homeless, answer “No” to the FAFSA questions concerning being homeless. You may need to contact the Office of Student Financial Assistance to explain your situation to a financial aid administrator.

For 2016-2017, those questions are:

  • Were you born before January 1, 1993?
  • As of the day you filed the FAFSA, are you married?
  • At the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year, will you be working on a master’s or doctorate program?
  • Are you currently serving on (federal) active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training?
  • Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces (see financial aid definition of a veteran)?
  • Do you have children who will receive more than half of their support from you between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017?
  • Do you have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half of their support from you, now and through June 30, 2017?
  • 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?
  • As determined by a court in your state of legal residence, are you or were you an emancipated minor?
  • As determined by a court in your state of legal residence, are you or were you in legal guardianship?
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2015, did your high school or school district homeless liaison determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless (see financial aid definition of unaccompanied homeless youth)?
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2015, did the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
    Development determined that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless (see financial aid definition of unaccompanied homeless youth)?
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2015, 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 (see financial aid definition of unaccompanied homeless youth)?

What is the financial aid definition of a veteran?

For financial aid purposes, a veteran is someone who:

  1. Has served in active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard) or a National Guard or Reservist who was called to active duty for other than state or training purposes, or was a cadet in a service academy, and
  2. Was released under a condition other than dishonorable. Members of the National Guard or Reserves who has NOT served on active duty for other than training or state purposes should answer “No” to being a veteran.

What is the Department of Education definition of an unaccompanied homeless youth?

There are three different questions on the FAFSA regarding being an unaccompanied homeless youth. Determination that you meet the definition of an unaccompanied homeless youth must be provided in writing by your high school or school district homeless liaison, a director of a homeless shelter or transitional housing program funded by HUD, or a director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program. The definition of unaccompanied homeless youth is:

  • “Homeless” means lacking fixed, regular and adequate housing. You may be homeless if you are living in shelters, parks, motels or cars, or are temporarily living with other people because you have nowhere else to go.
  • “Unaccompanied” means you are not living in the physical custody of your parent or guardian.
  • “Youth” means you are 21 years of age or younger or you are still enrolled in high school as of the day you signed your FAFSA.

I have a child. Why is UCF making me change to a dependent student?

In order to answer “Yes” to having a child on the FAFSA, you must be providing support for yourself as well as more than half of the child’s financial support. It is likely that the information you submitted about your income and family information indicated that someone else was providing more than half of your child’s financial support. Sometimes a student who has a child may live with the student’s parent (the child’s grandparent), in which case the child’s grandparent is likely to be the person providing more than half of the financial support.

Common problems for students whose parents are separated/divorced/widowed

My biological parents are divorced or separated from each other. Which parent should I use?

If your parents are divorced or separated, you should use the parent with whom you lived the most during the 12 months before filing the FAFSA. If you did not live with either parent during that time, you would use the parent who provided more financial support during the 12 months before filing the FAFSA, or the most recent year that you actually received support from a parent.

The parent I am supposed to use on the FAFSA is remarried to someone other than my biological parent. Why do I have to provide my step-parent’s information?

If your parent was remarried on the day you completed the FAFSA, you are required, per the federal guidelines, to report your step-parent’s tax information along with your parent’s information.

The parent I am supposed to use on the FAFSA is separated from his/her spouse but they filed a joint tax return. What do I do?

You will be required to provide proof that your parents (or parent and step-parent) were separated on or before the day you completed the FAFSA. You may provide one of the following documentation:

  • A copy of the divorce decree.
  • A copy of the legal separation.
  • Proof of your parent’s physical address as well as proof of your parent’s spouse’s physical address such as copies of utility bills or phone bills dated on/before the day you completed your FAFSA.

You will also be required to provide the IRS tax return transcripts and all W2s for both parents.

My parent is widowed, but filed a joint tax return with his/her deceased spouse. What do I do?

If your parent filed a joint tax return, and was widowed as of the day you filed the FAFSA, you must submit a copy of the death certificate, the parent’s tax transcript, and copies of both parents’ W2 forms. NOTE: We will not include the deceased parent’s income in the consideration for financial aid eligibility.

I am divorced or separated but filed a joint tax return with my spouse. What do I do?

You will be required to provide proof that you were separated on or before the day you completed the FAFSA. You may provide one of the following documentation:

  • A copy of the divorce decree.
  • A copy of the legal separation.
  • Proof of your physical address as well as proof of your spouse’s physical address such as copies of utility bills or phone bills dated on/before the day you completed your FAFSA.

You will also be required to provide the IRS tax return transcripts and all W2s for both.

I am widowed, but filed a joint tax return with my deceased spouse. What do I do?

If you filed a joint tax return, and were widowed as of the day you filed the FAFSA, you must submit a copy of the death certificate, the IRS tax transcript, and copies of both your and your spouse’s W2. NOTE: We will not include the deceased income in the consideration for financial aid eligibility.

Common problems with Household Size

Why am I being asked to do the Household Size Form again?

There are several reasons why we might ask for this form to be completed. It could be that there was some inconsistent information in the file that led us to ask or important information was left blank. Be sure to include all household members who fit the definition of a household member. We typically expect that the household members are claimed as dependents on the parent’s taxes if it is a dependent student or the student’s tax return for an independent student. Sometimes students will include people who would not normally be considered to be household members. Common situations include when a dependent student includes a sibling in the parent’s household size even though the sibling files his or her FAFSA as an independent student on their own. An independent sibling would not normally be counted as a dependent in the parent’s household size. If there is an unusual situation, it may help to provide a written explanation to help us understand.

Who can count in the Household Size?

Dependent Student:

  • Student
  • Parent(s)/Step-parent
  • Siblings who would also be considered to be dependent for financial aid purposes
  • Siblings who receive more than half financial support from your parent(s)/step-parent
  • Others who live with your parents AND receive more than half financial support from your parent(s)/step-parent
  • If your parents (regardless of gender) are not married to each other and live together, select “unmarried and both parents are living together, include both in the household size section and provide financial information for both of them.

Independent Student:

  • Student
  • Spouse (if married)
  • Children and step-children who receive more than half financial support from student/spouse
  • Others who live with the student AND receive more than half financial support from the student/spouse

Why can’t I count my parent in college?

Federal rules prohibit a dependent student from counting a parent in college.

I am listing a child in my household size for whom I paid child support. Can I do that?

No. When you report child support paid on the FAFSA, the amount is excluded from the calculation that determines your eligibility. Therefore, you cannot report child support paid for a child who is also counted in the household size.

Common problems with Excluded Income Information

I paid child support for the year for a child who is listed in the household size. Can I do that?

No. When you report child support paid on the FAFSA, the amount is excluded from the calculation that determines your eligibility. Therefore, you cannot report child support paid for a child who is also counted in the household size.

Common problems with Assets

Why am I being asked to complete an Asset Worksheet again?

It is likely that there was an asset indicated in your tax documents that we would expect to see reported as an asset, but you did not report it. If there is an indication of an asset such as interest, capital gains, rental real estate, an S-Corporation, etc., report the value and debt on the Asset Worksheet as it was on the day you filed the FAFSA. If you report the asset value and debt as zero, please provide a written explanation.