FAFSA Alerts – Read Prior to Completing

This page will be used to detail FAFSA glitches and other problems to be aware of when completing the FAFSA. Please check back often as new important information regarding the FAFSA will be added as it becomes available.

Employees Who Work for an International Organization (ie World Bank)

Completing the FAFSA if you work for an international agency where you do not file US taxes (such as World Bank):

  1. Indicate that you will not file taxes
  2. Enter zeroes for all of the income and tax related questions – EXCEPT questions 86 or 87 which should be completed (income earned by parent one and/or two).

This will trigger an error message on the FAFSA (as it will not understand why a tax return has not been filed).  The student will need to contact the individual colleges/universities for an over-ride.

Please reach out to College Access Fairfax at info@collegeaccessfairfax.org for more information.

Alimony Received

The Tax Act of 2017 changed how alimony is treated on the 1040 (tax return):

From the IRS: “Beginning Jan. 1, 2019, alimony or separate maintenance payments are not deductible from the income of the payer spouse, or includable in the income of the receiving spouse, if made under a divorce or separation agreement executed after Dec. 31, 2018.

This also applies to a divorce or separation agreement executed on or before Dec. 31, 2018, and modified after December 31, 2018, as long as the modification:

  • changes the terms of the alimony or separate maintenance payments; and,
  • states that the alimony or separate maintenance payments are not deductible by the payer spouse or includable in the income of the receiving spouse.”

Because alimony payments were reportable as income prior to the change, they were picked up for FAFSA purposes through adjusted gross income.  Since alimony is a reportable amount for FAFSA purposes, it now needs to be disclosed as the receiving parent’s “untaxed income”  (alimony does not appear anywhere in the description of untaxed income or in the drop down box).

Do Not Use The DRT if…

If a parent has had an IRA rollover in the tax year that is being reported (non-taxable rollover – basically from one provide to another) – DO NOT USE THE DRT*!

You cannot back out the rollover manually and it will be included in income and will make the EFC** wrong – usually by a large amount. If you have had a roll-over you have two options (and we recommend option #1):

  1. Do not use the DRT, enter the tax information manually and request a tax transcript.
  2. Use the DRT  and work with the financial aid office of all schools to submit documentation about the rollover.

*  The DRT is the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, which allows you to import your tax return information directly from the IRS web site into the FAFSA.
**  The EFC is the Expected Family Contribution – the amount the government feels a family should be expected to pay towards their child’s education.

If you need help completing the FAFSA, please note the following on our Resources page:

  1. Download your copy of “Understanding the 2021 FAFSA”.
  2. Watch our recorded FAFSA Line-by-Line presentation in our Virtual Library section.
  3. Review each of our other resources in our FAFSA section.

If you need additional help or have questions, please reach out to one of our Champions on our Appointments page.