1040 Form – How to File your FAFSA before your Federal Tax Return | 12.09.10

Posted in FAFSA, Financial Aid, Stafford Loan By Student Loan Network Staff

Did you know you are not required to complete your IRS federal tax return before filing your FAFSA? It is a common misnomer that it is required when it is simply encouraged. However, there will be a question on the FAFSA about which IRS Tax Form you will fill out in the future, if you haven’t already, and that is where the 1040 Form comes up.

Why you should fill out the 1040 while preparing your FAFSA form:

Having your federal tax return complete will save you a lot of time when filling out your FAFSA. However, some of you will want to file your FAFSA form earlier than you are able to complete your IRS federal tax return. In some cases, federal aid, grants and scholarships are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis and you’ll want to get the ball rolling early in January before you receive your income reports from the previous year.

So what are your options? You can fill out a 1040 form using estimated income amounts, either using your previous year’s tax return or your current pay stubs. You are allowed to report estimated tax data on your FAFSA, as long as you correct the estimates once you finish your taxes.

What is the 1040? Well, it is actually your Federal Income Tax Return form. There are a few different versions of this form and it is important to determine which you will be filing. The FAFSA-on-the-web application will populate other parts of the form for you based on qualifications you would have in order to file the specific types of federal return.  This should help guide you:

To qualify for the 1040EZ:

  • Your total income is under $100,000
  • Your interest income is under $1,500
  • You have income only from wages, interest, unemployment compensation, and Alaska Permanent Fund dividends
  • You and your spouse are under 65 years old
  • Your filing status is single or married filing jointly.
  • You do not have any adjustments to income
  • You are claiming only the standard deduction
  • You may claim the Earned Income Credit
  • You are not claiming any other tax credits

If you meet all of these conditions, you are eligible to file the 1040EZ, and you will note this on your FAFSA. Most students are eligible to file the 1040EZ.

To qualify for the 1040A:

  • Your total income is under $100,000
  • Any age, any filing status
  • You have income from wages, interest, dividends, capital gain distributions, IRA or pension distributions, unemployment compensation, or Social Security benefits
  • You can claim the following adjustments to income: penalty for early withdrawal of savings, IRA contributions, student loan interest, and jury duty pay given to your employer
  • You can claim the following tax credits: Child and dependent care credit, Credit for the elderly and disabled, Education credits, Retirement savings contributions credit, Child tax credit, and Earned income credit.

Completing one of the 1040 tax forms will give you a better idea of what adjustments can be made to your income, such as tuition and fees deductions and student loan interest. And you’ll be a step ahead on filing your federal taxes when you are able to.

Filing your taxes online? Most tax software will determine for you which form you are to file, and then you may note that on your FAFSA. In addition, part of preparing for the FAFSA is gathering your tax and financial information – so you’ll need to complete that anyway!

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99 Responses to “1040 Form – How to File your FAFSA before your Federal Tax Return”

  1. jazz says on February 22, 2013 at 3:47 am:

    hi am trying to fill my fafsa and its asking for the amount of my parents income tax 2012 and i dont know wat part is that written on the tax papers

    Reply To This Comment
  2. Linda says on February 9, 2013 at 8:55 am:

    My parents are still waiting on some forms , in order to file their income tax. However, I was just wondering how i can file my taxes without their income tax. I will not file taxes, only my parents. I have read some of the comments on here and the guidelines regarding the 1040 form, but i am still confused. I look forward on seeing some feedback. Thanks!

    Reply To This Comment
    • Student Loan Guru says on February 11, 2013 at 5:09 pm:

      You can submit using an estimate for now. If your parents’ income was similar to last year, you can use last year’s tax information on your FAFSA, then update it once your parents file their 2012 taxes.

      There are also some tools within the online FAFSA that can help you to estimate portions of the form.

      Reply To This Comment
  3. Taylor says on February 8, 2013 at 5:48 pm:

    Hey , I did my parents taxes for the fasfa ,and put no for mines . Submitted it , and then a week later I filed my own taxes how do i correct that mistake on my fasfa because I don’t see how.

    Reply To This Comment
  4. Kenya says on January 25, 2013 at 11:31 am:

    If I still file with my parents what form would I fill out if I was filing my Fafsa early?

    Reply To This Comment
    • Student Loan Guru says on January 30, 2013 at 11:30 am:

      Hi Kenya, could you clarify what you mean?

      To file your FAFSA early, you’d need to submit estimated tax information for yourself and your parents. You can estimate using any sort of documentation like W-2s or your latest tax return. There is no other form required to submit your FAFSA early, you just need a decent way to estimate this year’s taxes.

      If you do not need to file taxes this year, you’ll be able to select “Will not file” on the FAFSA, then just enter your parents’ tax info in the parent section.

      Reply To This Comment
      • Vik says on February 27, 2013 at 12:02 am:

        It does require more than the W-2 forms. I tried to fill it out with estimates, but for one of the questions the FAFSA site tells me to go to the 1040 form and use the value from line 55. Since the taxes are not complete, it’s hard to use a value that’s a page and a half into the tax form.

  5. Chris says on January 24, 2013 at 8:00 am:

    Hi, I just wanted to know if you can still file for FAFSA even if you dont have a job and havent worked since 2011 and just started school in september?

    Reply To This Comment
  6. Amy says on January 1, 2013 at 5:15 pm:

    Hi, I understand that I can file FAFSA with estimated tax income, but can i submit it? And once I file and submitted the FAFSA, how can I change the data to the accurate one?


    Reply To This Comment
    • Student Loan Guru says on January 2, 2013 at 9:33 am:

      Hi Amy,

      When you file the FAFSA without your taxes, you can simply select the “will file” option, fill in your income data as accurately as possible, and submit the application. This submits your application as usual and it will be processed and reviewed by schools. Once you file your taxes, you can simply log back in to your FAFSA account to update that section or to use the IRS Data Retrieval tool. The Department of Education will send reminder emails to students who have estimated to update the data, and it’s now a pretty simple process.

      Hope this answers your questions!

      Reply To This Comment
  7. john says on December 1, 2012 at 2:08 pm:

    I have a question..

    On my FAFSA I selected “Will Not File” and it’s been submitted. In fact, I’m half way through the school year now. But, as it turns out, I can expect a tax return if I decide to file. So, my question is should I file for my return (and if so how would I make the necessary changes so as to not get into any trouble) or am I forced to pass? Thank you.

    Reply To This Comment
    • Mary says on January 25, 2013 at 1:54 pm:

      according to an answer last year, you would need to submit a correction ~ see the following

      Student Loan Guru says on January 30, 2012 at 9:07 am:

      You can select either, but keep in mind that if you select one, and do the opposite, you will need to file a FAFSA correction.

      Reply To This Comment
  8. John says on August 13, 2012 at 5:32 pm:

    My daughter is trying to go to USC (South Carolina). I had to file an exention on my taxes this year, so they have been filed but not processed. The IRS said I could simply use the 1040 and fax them a copy of it as you suggested, however USC FA said it is a federal law that they cannot use a 1040. I asked them why a fedral organization would tell me it’s ok if it was a federal law and they aid it was possibly because they weren’t aware of the law (The Federal agency isn’t aware of it’s own law and USC is….hmmmm). Anyway telling people they can fill out the FAFSA before their taxes are filed is a bit misleading.

    Reply To This Comment
  9. joana says on August 9, 2012 at 10:57 am:

    I just applied for college they need a copy of my tax transcript can i use my 1040 as a transcipt.

    Reply To This Comment
    • Student Loan Guru says on August 14, 2012 at 4:09 pm:

      You need to contact the IRS office to request an official transcript – it needs to be from the office, not just a copy of what you’ve submitted.

      Reply To This Comment
  10. Wasim says on April 19, 2012 at 8:11 pm:

    My father just passed away last month. He filed his taxes and I wont qualify based on his info. What do I do with the FAFSA if I just started a job and have to provide for my mother who is currently unemployed? Is she a dependent?

    Reply To This Comment
  11. jae says on March 6, 2012 at 4:19 pm:

    My mom and dad are separated and my mom does not and has not worked. Since the only income we have is what my father provides how do i input her information.

    Reply To This Comment
    • Student Loan Guru says on March 8, 2012 at 8:48 am:

      If you lived with your mom and not your dad for the majority of last year, then you can put whatever your mom makes (even if this is little to nothing). If you lived with your parents equally, then you an use your father’s information since he was the financial support.

      Reply To This Comment
  12. Esme says on February 28, 2012 at 11:12 pm:

    I am very confused as to what i am going to put for my fafsa this year. My dad passed away recently and my mom did not file for taxes this year, she is also unemployed and has been for a year. (2011-2012) however my aunt did file me under her taxes… do I put her tax info. for fafsa even though she’s not my legal guardian but I have been living with her.

    Reply To This Comment
    • Student Loan Guru says on March 1, 2012 at 9:11 am:

      No, you must put the information of a parent, even if they do not file taxes. In this case, you simply select “will not file” for that question on the FAFSA.

      Reply To This Comment
  13. Kathy says on February 25, 2012 at 12:10 pm:

    My son is 19 and started college in fall of 2011. He had a small income of under 3000.00 for the year 2011. He had 21st centuray scholarships, pell grants, and academic scholarshiips. What federal tax form do we use for filing his taxes? Do we report his scholarships and grants on his taxes or mine?

    Reply To This Comment
  14. Jay says on February 18, 2012 at 3:04 pm:

    My parents still have not filed their taxes, the deadline for school is in March, what should I do?

    Reply To This Comment
    • Student Loan Guru says on February 21, 2012 at 10:37 am:

      You can go ahead and either select “will file” on the FAFSA, or use an estimate based on last year’s taxes. Keep in mind that while this will suffice for now, you will have to go back and file a FAFSA correction once your parents file their taxes.

      Reply To This Comment
  15. Hannah says on February 11, 2012 at 11:39 am:

    I’m not sure how I should be filing my taxes since I didn’t have any earned income last tax year. I was in school last year and I didn’t work this past summer. Even though I didn’t work last year I want to file because I want to have a tax record. I’ve been filing every year since I was 15/16. I have a 1098 T for both of the schools I attended last year. I know that the 1098 T work to reduce tax liability and since I didn’t work last year it doesn’t matter. So how should I file this year?

    Reply To This Comment
  16. 123 says on February 10, 2012 at 4:36 am:

    Hi, I’m about to lose my job, and my loans are currently in deferment because I have student status, but have just left school, so I will be filing for economic hardship deferment soon. I’m wondering, how will filing for unemployment benefits affect my deferment? Will they expect me to pay them if I have a “steady-income”(the unemployment)?

    Reply To This Comment
  17. Nelly says on February 7, 2012 at 1:15 am:

    I took off a year and a half from college. I didn’t earn any income (zero) in 2011. What would be the advantages to filing a zero income tax return versus saying “Will not file” on the FAFSA application?

    Reply To This Comment
  18. Marie says on January 28, 2012 at 9:12 pm:

    Well I am a full time college student and i work two part time jobs. I am claimed as a dependent on my aunt’s taxes, so for my fafsa do I use my mom’s tax return , my aunt or mines?

    Reply To This Comment
    • Student Loan Guru says on January 30, 2012 at 9:09 am:

      Your parental tax information needs to come from the parent with whom you live with the most. Unless your aunt is your legal guardian, you cannot use her information – it has to be a parent.

      Reply To This Comment
  19. Domonic says on January 28, 2012 at 7:27 pm:

    If you are unsure of whether you will file tax returns for 2011, is it better to put ‘will not file’ or ‘will file’ on the FAFSA? If you end up doing the opposite of what you put down, are there any repercussions?

    Reply To This Comment
    • Student Loan Guru says on January 30, 2012 at 9:07 am:

      You can select either, but keep in mind that if you select one, and do the opposite, you will need to file a FAFSA correction.

      Reply To This Comment
  20. celica says on January 27, 2012 at 12:03 pm:

    i have a question,beacuse on my fafsa they need my fathers pin??how can i do that? and i put on my fafsa my dad already file hes taxes on 2010,but hes still need hes pin.i really need your answer because i already 6 times meking correction for my fafsa! thank you!have a great day.

    Reply To This Comment
  21. ann says on January 24, 2012 at 2:56 am:

    hi i have a problem this year filling out my fafsa for the 2012-2013. these last few years i have alway ffile with my moms tax b/c shes the only one working. But recently my sister and I got a job. Unfortunately my mom wont be able to file her tax on time for fafsa deadline at school but, at least my sister and I will be able to have our 2011tax file ready.
    So my question is in the fafsa can i just put my mom`s tax as “will file” and uses her 2010 tax return instead of the 2011 one for now? And i can make correction later once her 2011 tax return is available. As for my sister and I, it will be “already file” and the information wil be based on our 2011 tax return. The Only person i need to update later would be my mom’s info. Is this ok? thank you. hope to hear from u soon

    Reply To This Comment
    • Student Loan Guru says on February 2, 2012 at 11:29 am:

      Absolutely, it’s better to estimate, then file a correction later. This will give you the most accurate information from the school.

      Reply To This Comment
  22. David says on January 23, 2012 at 9:09 am:

    I had financial aid for college last year and I was wondering how long it will take for these forms to come in and if there is anyway around it.. meaning, is there anyway I can advance the process by printing out my financial aid for online?

    Reply To This Comment
  23. Stephanie says on January 21, 2012 at 10:33 pm:

    I am 18 and I plan on filing for taxes this year. I haven’t received anything in the mail about it and I’m not quite sure how much I earned in both jobs I had in 2011. My question is: If I put down on my FAFSA that I will not file and I end up filing later this year, will I get in trouble?

    Reply To This Comment
  24. uhoh says on January 19, 2012 at 4:56 am:

    Uhh, what happens if I put zeroes for the tax information that was asked for? I just wanted a head start and submit it earlier, but I had no idea you were supposed to give an estimate. I mean of course, I’m going to change it later on when the federal tax return is complete. But will I be penalized for this? Will this jeopardize my financial aid process? Please help me! THANKS

    Reply To This Comment
  25. Jennifer says on January 17, 2012 at 7:54 pm:

    My fiance and I are getting married at the end of the month. Will this change affect his student loans or will they go on information from the past year?

    Reply To This Comment

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