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FAFSA Income Issues

DashAheadDashAhead Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
In 2017, our annual income was a very high number. Our household was in the top 1% of income easily. The same year, our sole income earner for our family passed away. Our expected income for next year is only $50,000. FAFSA unfortunately asks for 2017 income and not 2018 expected income, so although our household income this year will be far, far lower than it was last year, it will appear to the government that we are not in need of financial aid. Nobody in my family is currently working. What can I do in this situation? Can I apply for FAFSA aid while I'm already in college next year?

Replies to: FAFSA Income Issues

  • PepperJoPepperJo Registered User Posts: 159 Junior Member
    edited October 11
    Fill out the FAFSA, then when you get accepted, you call the admissions office and tell them your current situation. My sister did that with WashU when her son got accepted ED last December. They covered her earlier EFC completely after they received the necessary documentation about the change in employment status. Of course, you call always call the FA office of the schools you are interested in beforehand to see what they say. Be careful with “need aware”schools though.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 72,265 Senior Member
    I’m sorry for your loss.

    I might be wrong....but...

    If your second parent is now your only parent...you would complete the FAFSA with ONLY that parent income from 2017, I believe.

    The FAFSA marital status now would be widow or widower, right?

    I don’t think you would include your parent’s income who passed away.

    @kelsmom ??
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 72,265 Senior Member
    I found this online...but hope someone will verify it is correct.
    The FAFSA can be difficult for non-traditional families. For students with deceased parents, universities may require death certificates or other proof, and the financial aid application process may be emotionally difficult for grieving students.

    For the FAFSA, do not report your deceased parent’s income.

    If your deceased parent was your custodial parent and you are not financially dependent on your non-custodial parent, you may be eligible for a dependency override.
    If your parent has died after you have submitted the FAFSA, contact your school immediately and let them know.

    Steps for filling out the FAFSA if you have a deceased parent

    1. Submit financial information for your remaining parent, including their income and assets.

    2. Do not submit your deceased parent’s financial information, even if they died within the past year and you have their tax returns and financial documents.

    3. If your parent died after you submitted your FAFSA, submit a correction updating your information. Contact your university’s financial aid office and explain your situation; see if they have university-specific advice or protocols.

    They are likely to ask you to submit a death certificate.
  • DashAheadDashAhead Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
    edited October 11

    Thanks for the reply, but my parents used a joint account for income so I think that legally the income is reported as being my father’s. We are receiving income and tax forms within the next few days so I may be able to see then.

    Although I’m still curious if I can apply for FAFSA to receive aid to pay for tuition while I’m in college.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 72,265 Senior Member
    Which parent is still alive?

    It is my understanding that you report ONLY that parent’s income on your FAFSA. Did the parent still living have any income in 2017? If so, that is what you put on the FAFSA.

    The bank accounts are ASSETS...not income. If these are the assets of your living parent, yes, you will put them on the FAFSA form...balance as of the date of filing the FAFSA.

    Please explain what you mean by “used a joint account for income”.
  • BelknapPointBelknapPoint Registered User Posts: 3,889 Senior Member
    If you are filling out FAFSA for the 2019-2020 academic year and your father died in 2017, you do not report his income from 2017 before his death at all. It doesn't matter if the income he earned that year (or at any time) was deposited in a joint account. As thumper1 says, money in that account will be reported as your mother's asset, regardless of the source.

    Make sure you understand the difference between INCOME and ASSETS.
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Forum Champion Financial Aid, Forum Champion Alabama Posts: 84,199 Forum Champion
    edited October 11
    So very sorry for your loss.

    You don’t include dad’s income on FAFSA because he is deceased. Doesn’t matter that his income will be on the tax return for that year. So, if dad earned $300k and mom earned 0, then you put 0 on FAFSA. Your dad’s name doesn’t go on your FAFSA, and neither does his income.

    Any assets are all your mom’s.

    You probably will be asked to provide proof that he’s deceased so be prepared to show a death cert.
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Forum Champion Financial Aid, Forum Champion Alabama Posts: 84,199 Forum Champion
    For example...


    Dad earned $300k
    Mom earned $0

    Current family income is $5k

    Today, your mom has $200k in assets.

    Your dad is NOT on FAFSA and neither is his income.

    Your mom is Listed on FAFSA, and if she had no income in 2017, then put 0.....but if she has some investment income that year, she would report that. And if your parents had assets in 2017, those would get put on fafsa.
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 19,543 Senior Member
    It is likely your mother filed her 2017 taxes as 'married'. You will NOT be able to use the DRT on the FAFSA, you will have to enter your mother's income on the FAFSA. That's fine. Your mother will need any W2 or 1099 forms to determine what part of the income was hers.
  • SybyllaSybylla Registered User Posts: 2,623 Senior Member

    " it will appear to the government that we are not in need of financial aid."

    Really, it is unlikely that govt FA will have any part of this issue. 1% parents of a kid your age will have assets, savings, pensions, life insurance, property etc. Are you sure you mean 1% er? FAFSA isn't going to define what your target school asks you to pay. You really may not be aware of the extent of assets. What is your target school? Try their NPCs. Is there an executor for the estate? Do you have access to details? 2017 is pretty recent. There might well be assets that are tied up but still declarable.
  • mommdcmommdc Registered User Posts: 10,622 Senior Member
    The assets (money in bank accounts and investments) will be reported as of the day the FAFSA is submitted.

    Only the income of your mom's from 2017 will be reported on the FAFSA.

    Your mom should select "widow" on the drop down menu of marital status.

  • kelsmomkelsmom Registered User Posts: 15,142 Senior Member
    The above info is correct. For help in determining how to report the income, see this: https://ifap.ed.gov/fsahandbook/attachments/1718FSAHbkActiveIndex.pdf (page AVG-85, or page 78 of the document).
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