Does checking the Federal Work Study box on the FAFSA affect other
forms of financial aid that a college might award, such as
scholarships or other government aid? Is it wise to check this box
even if you have not yet received a college's financial aid offer?
— S. Z.
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Turning down one form of need-based financial aid generally does not
increase the amounts of other types of financial aid to
compensate. For example, you can't get more grants by refusing to
accept loans or work-study. There is no harm in checking this box; you
can always decline the work-study later. Note also that checking this
box does not guarantee that you will receive work-study.
Are you required to report the amount of your cash balance,
checking and savings account on the FAFSA? I feel that this is very
private information and I am not comfortable sharing this
information. Am I allowed to leave it blank?
— Becky M.
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You must report the total current balance of cash, savings and
checking accounts as of the date the FAFSA is filed. Bank account
balances can be based on the most recent account statement. This
information is currently required by law, specifically sections
475(d)(2)(A), 476(c)(2)(A) and 477(c)(2)(A) of the
Higher Education Act of 1965. Failing to report it on the FAFSA is
fraud. Of course, you can choose to not file a FAFSA, but then you
won't get any need-based student financial aid. If you're worried
about the privacy of your FAFSA, talk to the college financial aid
administrator. Information submitted on the FAFSA is protected by
the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
I have been divorced for 17 years. I have a daughter who attends
college full time and is 20 years old. She has never lived with her
father. The child support order stopped when she graduated from high
school, but since he was so far behind on his child support, I still
receive payments on the arrearage. Do I still have to claim this as
child support when filling out the FAFSA even though the order ended?
— Katherine H.
You must report child support actually received on the FAFSA even if
it is based on a past obligation and not a current obligation.
If you expect that the child support received will differ
significantly during the award year, you could ask the college
financial aid administrator for a professional judgment review. If
the child support last year was higher than normal because of a lump
sum catch-up payment, some colleges will make an adjustment to smooth
out the volatility. If the child support during the award year will be
lower because the child support payments will be ending, some colleges
will make an adjustment to reflect the amount that will be received
during the award year. But the decision to make an adjustment is up to
the college financial aid administrator, not you.
My mom is a single parent raising me and my little sister. She gets
child support for my sister, but she has never received any child
support for me. Does my mom have to report the amount of child support
she gets for my sister on the FAFSA, or can she specify the amount as
zero because she receives none for me?
— Reyna R.
Child support received for all children must be reported on the FAFSA,
not just child support received for the student.