Must student see FAFSA?

Yes. The FAFSA belongs to the student, not a parent, and the online FAFSA account is designed to be established by and accessible by the student. The Student Aid Report (SAR) that is generated after the FAFSA is processed is normally available electronically to the student, either by logging in to the student’s FAFSA account or through email delivery to the student. The SAR contains all the information that was reported during the FAFSA completion process.

Bottom line: if for whatever reason you don’t want your child to know your personal financial information that FAFSA and Profile require, don’t apply for any need-based or merit financial aid that requires the completion of either of those forms.

If you use the DRT, your income will be transferred to the FAFSA electronically, and you won’t see it and your child won’t see it. Asset and other information you put is will be available.

Will your child do the work to research this? Mine didn’t. I did the FAFSAs for both kids each year and they just weren’t that interested in it. I know they didn’t look because they would have needed the passwords which I had. It wasn’t to keep the info from them but the FAFSA were due while they were away at school (first in Jan, later years in Oct) and it was just easier for me to do them. I also did their taxes and for one she was taxed on her scholarships so needed my tax info to complete hers. I just did them all.

If you aren’t applying for financial aid but might need to file the FAFSA for merit aid, make sure to watch the deadlines. My kids’ schools both waited for the FAFSA to be filed before awarding any merit aid. If I wasn’t going to file, I just had to let them know so they’d release the merit aid.

The last time I was actually involved in completing a FAFSA, several years ago, it was done online using the DRT. The data that had been transferred from the IRS was visible on the Student Aid Report. Is this no longer the case?

I did it yesterday. Many of the lines say “transferred from the IRS.” However, some lines you had to enter separately and were visible - each of our incomes from the W2 and the values of our cash accounts and investments.

TBH…many parents file FAFSA without ever involving their child. those parents get IDs and passcodes for both parent and child…and kid never sees anything…

I understand and agree, but that doesn’t mean that the student doesn’t have a right to see the completed FAFSA/SAR, and without much effort could get access to the information that they have a right to see. Because technically and legally, it is the student, not a parent, who is providing the information and submitting the form.

The IRS imported info is blocked out. It drives me nuts because there’s no way to verify it’s correct. You just have to trust DRT.

Ok; that’s a change from my last experience. Probably because of security concerns. However, as ClassicMom98 points out above, pertinent parent financial information that has not been transferred by DRT will still be visible: individual parent income, asset information, etc.

I completed the FAFSA form with my son the way the instructions say we should: my son is the primary user and has his own login. I took care of the parental section of the FAFSA form using the “Save Key” (shared password on top of our own private logins) that my son picked and shared with me for that purpose. We both signed the form electronically.

As @ClassicMom98 stated, the information retrieved using the IRS DRT tool is encrypted, but one has to manually input the W2 wages from each parent in the FAFSA form (I assume because the 1040 form aggregates wages from both parents), as well as parental assets. So the student can see the wages from each parent and the combined parental assets. The only thing the student cannot directly see is unearned income.

I found it a bit awkward to have to share all that information with him, but I guess it helped him understand why going after merit was important to us.

And once the form is submitted, only the student gets to see the SAR. I had to ask my son to send me a copy.

@carlsen - Would your kids even care? I’m a pretty open book with finances with my kids so my son filled out the FAFSA with me next to him giving him the numbers he needed for the parent section and I’m pretty sure that 3 weeks later he couldn’t even give you a close approximation of what any of those numbers were. If I would have filled it out myself there’s just no way he’d take the time to look up what was entered. All the DRT info is blocked out anyhow, so it would just be the assets that could be seen if he bothered.

The FAFSA form will also include the wages from each parent which are not imported by the DRT (because they cannot currently be imported from the IRS) but entered manually.

I just looked at DS’s SAR and for questions 86 (Father’s/Mother’s/Stepparent’s) 2018 Income Earned from Work), it Just says “Transferred from IRS”

@cshell2 Not sure about the SAR as I don’t have it readily available, but in this year’s FAFSA form (like last year), under “Parent Financials”, we get the questions “How much did your Parent 1 (father/mother/stepparent) earn from working (wages, salaries, tips, etc.) in 2018?” and “How much did your Parent 2 (father/mother/stepparent) earn from working (wages, salaries, tips, etc.) in 2018?”. And the (manual) answers to those questions show in the “FAFSA summary”. Maybe those questions only pop if the parents file a joint tax return (in which case the DRT cannot retrieve individual incomes as they are aggregated in the tax return)?

@NJEngineerDad if the parents are married and didn’t file a joint return, they cannot use the IRS DRT because it won’t import both parent info.

@BelknapPoint as noted, the info transferred using the DRT is not visible when one reviews the form. But it should be correct assuming the info on the tax return is correct!

IIRC, the same log in information is also used for the Direct Loan promissory note as well as exit counseling when the student graduates. And for accessing account info for repayment purposes. Do you plan to keep your kid’s log in information a secret forever?

The easiest way to avoid having your kid see your FAFSA information is to NOT file a FAFSA. Have your kid look at colleges that award merit aid without having to file financial aid forms. There are way more of those than ones that do require the financial aid forms be filed. That way your student won’t ever need to see your income.

That’s probably it. I don’t file a joint return.

@thumper1 I meant that maybe if the parents are not (currently) married and that the FAFSA therefore only needs the income of only one parent, then maybe the DRT can be used to retrieve the income earned from work (and then it would simply states transferred from IRS instead of asking the question)? Only thing I can tell for sure in that in our case we file married jointly and the wages have to be entered manually, and the student can see them… @cshell2 are you filling by yourself? [edit: noted that the answer is yes - so that seems to be the explanation]

Yes, not married. I file HOH.

Yes, I know that and I am not questioning that. I mentioned that in years past, the DRT transferred numbers did appear on the SAR, but that is apparently no longer the case. In any event, there is still FAFSA-required parent financial information that is not masked through use of DRT, the type of which perhaps depends on the parent filing status.

well, it depends on the kid and the family situation.

If a family has a lot in unprotected assets (instead of retirement acct)or has a high income but lots of expenses, then the child might think, “hey, you have all this money, so you should pay for my college pick.”

sure if a family has a modest income, modest/low assets, it’s probably not a big deal. but I’m sure my dad wouldn’t have wanted us to see the value of my parents’ stock portfolio because of how we kids may have perceived it. That money was their future retirement.

I would hope that most kids do have a “you have all this money, pay for college” attitude…as that sounds very entitled.

Plus regardless of how much money a family has, it is a family decision how much money will be allocated for college costs.

Set a budget with your student. That is very important info for them to have.

But back to the question. @carlsen which colleges require the financial aid forms for merit aid? Having that info will help other students and families here.