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### California Students: FAFSA 2024 Deadline Updates

If you are considering private schools as well, you can proceed with initiating the CSS Profile application. The documentation required for the CSS Profile is more extensive than that of the FAFSA, including your parents’ W-2 forms, recent bank statements, and records of any properties or assets owned by your family.

It is essential to allow your family sufficient time to gather the necessary documents for completing the CSS Profile. In cases where you encounter questions that you are unable to answer—for instance, if your parents are separated and one cannot be contacted due to safety concerns—reach out to the financial aid office of the schools you are applying to for specific guidance on the next steps.

Q. My parents are employed but lack tax information. How can I proceed with the FAFSA application?

Let’s simplify some tax terminology:

  • A W-2 form is a document provided by employers to employees annually, detailing the earnings for the year.
  • A 1040 form is a tax return form that individuals complete themselves, indicating their income and tax liabilities, submitted to the IRS annually.

Most individuals in the U.S. receive a W-2 form and file a 1040 form. FAFSA requires information from the previous year’s tax documents. However, if your parents are unable to provide this information, it could be due to various reasons:

  • Gig workers, like Uber drivers, typically receive a 1099 form instead of a W-2.
  • Individuals receiving unemployment benefits may have a 1099-G form instead of a W-2.
  • If your parent has a W-2 but not a 1040, they may not have filed their taxes yet. Colleges usually require tax information.

Consider discussing with your parents the possibility of consulting a tax preparer to catch up on filing. Community organizations often offer free tax filing services, and your family might be eligible for refunds based on their income and family size.

If your parents work in jobs where they do not receive formal tax documents like W-2s or 1099s, such as cash-based jobs like housecleaning or landscaping, there are alternative solutions available. Prompt action is necessary in such cases.

Creating a digital record of your parents’ income, even from cash-based sources, is crucial. This record can aid in future FAFSA applications, especially if you are studying far from home and need to access financial information remotely.

When organizing this data, seek guidance from the financial aid officers at the schools you are applying to. They may request additional documents, such as employer letters or a self-filed 1040 form based on the income details gathered.

Accuracy is key when inputting information into FAFSA, as emphasized by Sonia Jethani, the director of the financial aid office at California State University, East Bay.

How can you collaborate with your family to accurately complete the FAFSA process? (Image by Keira Burton/Pexels)

Additional Insights on FAFSA for 2024:

Michael Lemus from the California Student Aid Commission suggests utilizing their resources for financial aid queries. Their website will soon feature a Better FAFSA toolkit.

Lemus recommends starting early and maintaining close communication with high school counselors, especially for seniors in the fall.

Despite the delay in FAFSA applications this year, Lemus advises students to familiarize themselves with the financial aid process and available aid types to be well-prepared when applications open in December.

Lemus reassures applicants not to stress over the changes, as educators and teachers will be trained on the new procedures, offering additional support and guidance.

If you encounter unanswered questions, Lemus encourages reaching out to the California Student Commission for assistance and guidance.

Feel free to share any specific topics you need more information on, as your input strengthens our reporting and helps us tailor our coverage to address your needs effectively.