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Don’t let FAFSA get you flustered. You can find many helpful answers to tax questions here.

Students must report the information as outlined on the FAFSA.

The Office of Student Financial Assistance recognizes households can experience changes in income or other circumstances that are not reflected in their information from two years prior.  When these situations occur, it is possible to re-evaluate a student’s aid eligibility based on their current circumstances through the Professional Judgment(PJ) process. For more information, visit our Professional Judgment page.

Yes, you must apply each year. The priority date is December 1st each year. FAFSA applications are available starting in October for the upcoming year.

At this time, only the 20-21 PJ form is available to complete. The 20-21 PJ form considers extenuating circumstances that occurred in 2020, thus, is based off the 2020 expected income.

The FAFSA can be completed online. If you plan to apply for aid for the summer term, also complete the FAFSA for the current year. It is recommended that you do this by early November to meet UCF’s priority application date of December 1. UCF’s school code is 003954.

Applications are by request only, students may request an application via email or in office.
Email our department at sfasapandpj@ucf.edu. Be sure to include “Professional Judgement” in the subject line and provide a detailed explanation of your special circumstance. Please allow 3-5 business days for a response.

It will be sent to you via email if you completed the FAFSA online. If not, call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED AID (1-800-433-3243).

A paper Student Aid Report will be mailed to your home address if you did not provide an email address.

The IRS Verification of Non-filing Letter will be required if student, spouse, if applicable, or parent(s) indicate on the FAFSA and/or the Verification Worksheet that an IRS Tax Return was not filed. Each nontax filer is required to provide the letter. To request a IRS Verification of Non-filing Letter visit: www.irs.gov/individuals/tax-return-transcript-types-and-ways-to-order-them.

This service is offered free of charge by the IRS and can be obtained through three different options:

  • Online
  • By Telephone
  • By Paper

If you and/or your parents have never filed taxes with the IRS, the IRS Verification of Non-Filing Letter must be requested by mail using the paper version of the IRS Form 4506-T available at www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f4506t.pdf You will need to print, complete, sign and send the form by mail or fax to the IRS.

Residents of the Freely Associated States (Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia), or a U.S. territory or commonwealth (Puerto Rico) or a foreign central government who are not required to file an income tax return under that taxing authority’s rules must submit the following:

  • A signed statement indicating the person was not required to file taxes for that year by their tax authority and the name of the country where he/she resided.
  • Documentation of all of the individual’s earned income for the specified year.
  • Each non-filer listed on the verification worksheet must provide a statement. Please include the name of the non-filer, the student’s name and UCFID.

Step-by-step instructions: How to obtain the IRS Verification of Non-Filing Letter

Guidelines for submitting documents can be found on our Forms page.

Outcome will be determined and sent to the student via their Knights email address within 3-4 weeks of submission of a complete appeal.

Note: Incomplete submissions should expect a longer time frame as they will be pended until requested documentation is received.  Once student submits all additional required documentation, outcome will be determined within 3-4 weeks from that time.

In order to answer “Yes” to having a child on the FAFSA, you must be providing support for yourself as well as more than half of the child’s financial support. It is likely that the information you submitted about your income and family information indicated that someone else was providing more than half of your child’s financial support. Sometimes a student who has a child may live with the student’s parent (the child’s grandparent), in which case the child’s grandparent is likely to be the person providing more than half of the financial support.

When a student has a pending PJ To-Do List item this will block financial aid from paying. The student may request the PJ be temporarily canceled to give time for current financial aid to disburse.

The chart below lists the type of supporting documentation REQUIRED for various categories of Professional Judgment:

Failure to submit all applicable, required documentation listed will result in a delay and possible denial of your PJ application.

Reason for Professional Judgement Petition Documents Required
Loss or Change of Employment and/or Income
  • Statement on letterhead indicating the last date of employment
  • Copy of the last paycheck including any vacation pay, severance, bonuses, or tips received
  • Documentation of the gross income of the person whose employment status changed
  • Members of the military must submit a copy of the DD214 and a LES showing taxable and untaxed income
  • Documentation of any type of income being received including workman’s compensation, payments from 401(k) or 403(b) plans, the financial contribution made by individuals outside of the household
Divorce or Separation
  • Copy of divorce decree
  • Statement from the family law attorney indicating the date of separation or proof of separation
  • Documentation of any alimony or child support being received or paid out
Death of a Parent or Spouse
  • Death certificate of the deceased individual
  • Copy of final paycheck
  • Documentation of any death benefits received
Disability
  • Documentation of disability diagnosis
  • Documentation of costs related to the student’s disability ex. Personal assistance, transportation, equipment, or supplies (These costs cannot be provided by other agencies to be considered for a Professional Judgement.)
Reduction in Child Support
  • Documentation of the total amount of child support expected for each child
Unusual Medical/Dental Expenses
  • Documentation of paid out- of- pocket medical expenses
  • Copy of Schedule A (tax form)
Elementary/Secondary Tuition Expenses
  • Proof of tuition expenses paid for the current academic year on school letterhead
Dependent Care Expenses
  • Proof of dependent care expenses paid for the current academic year on letterhead
Computer Purchase
  • Proof of cost of computer required for educational purposes or proof of purchase (This is a one-time adjustment.)
Professional Licensure
  • Proof of costs associated with professional licensure or proof of payment (This is a one-time adjustment. Preparatory coursework cannot be included.)

Once a PJ application is approved please allow 7 – 10 business days for a student’s financial aid award to be updated.

Note: PJ Approvals due to a COA increase do not result in an increase in financial aid.

Students with a denial outcome will receive the specified reason for the decision in their denial outcome email.  Students have the option to be re-evaluated only if they have new documentation to submit. Students have the option to submit a signed copy of their family’s 2020 tax return once they become available for reconsideration.

Due to the fluctuating nature of self-employment, sales-based, and commission-based pay it is impossible to estimate what the income will be for the entire year. The alternative to this is for the family to submit a signed copy of their 2020 tax returns once they become available to be evaluated for the entire 20-21 aid year.

Due to the fluctuating nature of self-employment, sales-based, and commission-based pay it is impossible to estimate what the income will be for the entire year. The alternative to this is for the family to submit a signed copy of their 2020 tax returns once they become available to be evaluated for the entire 20-21 aid year.

Corrections to the FAFSA can be made by logging onto FAFSA.gov using your FSA ID and password.

Five of the most common mistakes are:

  • Not filing early enough
  • Not reading the instructions
  • Not fully completing the applications
  • Not using the correct social security number
  • Not using student and/or parent(s) legal name

An individual who is required to file an IRS income tax return and has been granted a filing extension by the IRS, must provide all the items below:

  • A copy of IRS Form 4868, “Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return,” that was filed with the IRS for the tax year;
  • A copy of the IRS’s approval of an extension beyond the automatic six-month extension if the individual requested an additional extension of the filing time for the tax year;
  • Verification of Non-filing Letter (confirmation that the tax return has not yet been filed) from the IRS or other relevant tax authority dated on or after October 1;
  • A copy of IRS Form W–2 for each source of employment income received for the tax year and,
  • If self-employed, a signed statement certifying the amount of the individual’s Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) and the U.S. income tax paid for the tax year.

A PJ review is a courtesy, not a requirement; a student has 45 days from the day of the initial request to submit to avoid being denied due to inactivity. Students have the option to submit a signed copy of their family’s 2020 tax return once they become available if they are unable to provide what is initially requested.

There are three different questions on the FAFSA regarding being an unaccompanied homeless youth. The determination that you meet the definition of an unaccompanied homeless youth must be provided in writing by your high school or school district homeless liaison, a director of a homeless shelter or transitional housing program funded by HUD, or a director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program. The definition of unaccompanied homeless youth is:

  • “Homeless” means lacking fixed, regular and adequate housing. You may be homeless if you are living in shelters, parks, motels or cars, or temporarily living with other people because you have nowhere else to go.
  • “Unaccompanied” means you are not living in the physical custody of your parent or guardian.
  • “Youth” means you are 23 years of age or younger or you are still enrolled in high school as of the day you signed your FAFSA.

For financial aid purposes, a veteran is someone who:

  1. Has served in active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard) or a National Guard or Reservist who was called to active duty for other than state or training purposes, or was a cadet in a service academy, and
  2. Was released under a condition other than dishonorable. Members of the National Guard or Reserves who has NOT served on active duty for other than training or state purposes should answer “No” to being a veteran.

All PJ applications are required to have a detailed letter of explanation and supporting documentation.

Dependent Student

  • Student
  • Parent(s)/Step-parent
  • Siblings who would also be considered to be dependent for financial aid purposes
  • Siblings who receive more than half financial support from your parent(s)/step-parent
  • Others who live with your parents AND receive more than half financial support from your parent(s)/step-parent
  • If your parents (regardless of gender) are not married to each other and live together, select “unmarried and both parents are living together, include both in the household size section and provide financial information for both of them.

Independent Student

  • Student
  • Spouse (if married)
  • Children and step-children who receive more than half financial support from student/spouse
  • Others who live with the student AND receive more than half financial support from the student/spouse

There are several reasons why we might ask for this form to be completed. It is possible that inconsistent information has been reported or important has been left blank. Be sure to include all household members who fit the definition of a household member. We typically expect that the household members are claimed as dependents on the parent’s taxes if it is a dependent student or the student’s tax return for an independent student.

Sometimes students will include people who would not normally be considered to be household members. Common situations include when a dependent student includes a sibling in the parent’s household size even though the sibling files his or her FAFSA as an independent student on their own. An independent sibling would not normally be counted as a dependent in the parent’s household size. If there is an unusual situation, it may help to provide a written explanation to help us understand.

Federal rules prohibit a dependent student from counting a parent in college on the FAFSA.

If your PJ application is incomplete, you will be sent an email notification to your Knights email account detailing what we are missing. We will also place a PJ Pending item on the To-Do list on your myUCF Student Self Service Center.

Examples of why an appeal may be pending:

  • Missing signatures
  • No explanation
  • No documentation provided

Note: If pending items are not received within 45 days of initial request the appeal will be cancelled due to inactivity.

Per federal regulations copies of tax returns (IRS Forms 1040, 1040A, and 1040EZ) cannot be accepted to verify tax information. You must provide copies of your and/or your parent(s) 2015 tax return transcript(s) obtained from the IRS. There are three ways to request the tax return transcript from the IRS.

  • Online at IRS.gov under the Tools section, click on “Get a Tax Transcript”, then click on “Get Transcript by Mail”
  • By telephone at 1-800-908-9946
  • By mail using IRS Form 4506-T-EZ

Be sure to order the “Tax Return Transcript” which provides the line-by-line information from your filed tax return.

If your parent was remarried on the day you completed the FAFSA, you are required, per the federal guidelines, to report your step-parent’s tax information along with your parent’s information.

You will be required to provide proof that your parents (or parent and step-parent) were separated on or before the day you completed the FAFSA. You may provide one of the following documentation:

  • A copy of the divorce decree.
  • A copy of the legal separation.
  • Proof of your parent’s physical address as well as proof of your parent’s spouse’s physical address such as copies of utility bills or phone bills dated on/before the day you completed your FAFSA.

You will also be required to provide the IRS tax return transcripts and all W2s for both parents.

If your parent filed a joint tax return and was widowed as of the day you filed the FAFSA, you must submit a copy of the death certificate, the parent’s tax transcript, and copies of both parents’ W2 forms. We will not include the deceased parent’s income in the consideration for financial aid eligibility.

If your parents are divorced or separated, you should use the parent with whom you lived the most during the 12 months before filing the FAFSA. If you did not live with either parent during that time, you would use the parent who provided more financial support during the 12 months before filing the FAFSA, or the most recent year that you actually received support from a parent.

You will be required to provide proof that you were separated on or before the day you completed the FAFSA. You may provide one of the following documentation:

  • A copy of the divorce decree.
  • A copy of the legal separation.
  • Proof of your physical address as well as proof of your spouse’s physical address such as copies of utility bills or phone bills dated on/before the day you completed your FAFSA.

You will also be required to provide the IRS tax return transcripts and all W2s for both.

If you filed a joint tax return, and were widowed as of the day you filed the FAFSA, you must submit a copy of the death certificate, the IRS tax transcript, and copies of both your and your spouse’s W2. NOTE: We will not include the deceased income in the consideration for financial aid eligibility.

No. When you report child support paid on the FAFSA, the amount is excluded from the calculation that determines your eligibility. Therefore, you cannot report child support paid for a child who is also counted in the household size.

No. When you report child support paid on the FAFSA, the amount is excluded from the calculation that determines your eligibility. Therefore, you cannot report child support paid for a child who is also counted in the household size.

It is likely that there was an asset indicated in your tax documents that we would expect to see reported as an asset, but you did not report it. If there is an indication of an asset such as interest, capital gains, rental real estate, an S-Corporation, etc., report the value and debt on the Asset Worksheet as it was on the day you filed the FAFSA. If you report the asset value and debt as zero, please provide a written explanation.

The FAFSA will ask for older income and tax information, students will already have completed taxes by the time of FAFSA filing (October 1st) and won’t need to estimate tax information.

Taxes are completed before FAFSA filing time (October 1st).

With the FAFSA available earlier, students may feel less pressure and have more time to explore and understand financial aid options then apply for aid before state and school deadlines.


FAQs Related to Applying for Aid

Florida Bright Futures awards are not considered definite until the state has notified UCF of students’ official eligibility. The initial amount is based on enrollment in 14 credit hours and will be adjusted to reflect your actual hours of enrollment each semester once the Drop/Swap and Add period has ended.

A maximum of 8 terms or until graduation, whichever is less.

Students whose major requires 124 or more hours may receive a one-term extension. (Double majors and minors are not considered). A letter (on letterhead) from the department verifying the number of hours required for the degree must be submitted to the Office of Student Financial Assistance prior to the 9th term.

Bright Futures A student can be funded up to 45 credit hours, which includes summer term.
Note: Effective for the 2019-2020 aid year, there is no longer a 45 credit hour limit for Bright Futures funding.

For the students who were funded summer term right after graduating from high school, the hours funded for the academic year will count as follows, Summer 18 + Fall 18 +Spring 19 + Summer 19

For students who were funded in the previous academic year (Fall 17 and Spring 18), the hours funded will count as follows, Fall 18 + Spring 19 + Summer 19.

A student must be enrolled in at least 6 credit hours in order to receive Bright Futures funding for each term.

As an out of state student your scholarship is comprised of two portions, a scholarship portion and a waiver portion. The scholarship portion of your award will serve for deferment purposes, and your waiver will be applied directly towards your tuition, but will not serve as a deferment. Only students who are enrolled full-time will receive the waiver.* The waiver will be applied the week after the add/drop period has ended.

*The only exception to the full-time enrollment requirement is granted to students during their graduating semester. Please refer to the Required Hours section on the Program Requirements page for additional information.

The time that it takes to process a loan is contingent upon your student meeting/completing all loan eligibility criteria.

Loan processing is also contingent upon the parent meeting/completing all loan eligibility criteria, including the following:

  • Federal Direct PLUS Loan Application
  • Master Promissory Note
  • Approved Credit Check
  • U.S. citizenship status or an eligible non-citizenship status as defined by the FAFSA

For details of the loan eligibility criteria, please visit the Federal PLUS Loan.

Planning ahead is essential to managing debt. If you plan to borrow each year you are in school, estimate the total amount you will borrow. Then use a sample loan repayment estimator to estimate how much you will have to pay each month. Then decide how much to borrow, you can use the criteria lenders use when they consider an applicant’s ability to repay.

The total monthly payment for all debts should not exceed 8% of your gross monthly salary.

The Federal Government sets the interest rate July 1st of each year.

The interest rates are the same for Stafford Loans in the Federal Direct Loan Program and FFELP, but the Direct Loan Program offers lower interest rates in the PLUS and Grad PLUS programs.

For interest rates, please visit the Loan Comparison Chart or select a specific loan program to view.

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