Monday, June 17th, 2013
SFA has prepared a short video tutorial explaining the two-step process for receiving your federal Direct Loan.
Friday, May 24th, 2013
SFA will be closed Monday, May 27, in observance of Memorial Day.
We will resume regular office hours—8 am to 5 pm—on Tuesday, May 28.
Friday, May 17th, 2013
The Summer 2012-13 issue of SFA’s Financial Aid Newsletter is available now. You can download it here.
Featured in this issue are:
- No FAFSA Requirement for Bright Futures
- New Process for Requesting Federal Direct Loans
- The Shopping Sheet
- Unusual Circumstances with Your Taxes
- Financial Aid in the News
- and more.
Friday, May 17th, 2013
Since May of 2011, potential Florida Bright Futures recipients were told, in no uncertain terms,
“No FAFSA = No $.”
According to a bill recently signed into law by Florida Governor Rick Scott, that statement is no longer true.
The new law strips away the requirement that students annually submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to be eligible for Florida Bright Futures Scholarship money. The law is effective as of July 1, 2013.
Previously, regulations stipulated that the student’s FAFSA must be complete and processed as error-free prior to a student’s first disbursement of an award. It was not necessary that the FAFSA indicated that a student was needy, only that it was completed and processed without errors.
When the FAFSA requirement was enacted in 2011, one of the main justifications for the FAFSA requirement was the collection of demographic data on Bright Futures recipients. According to State Senator Evelyn Lynn (R), the sponsor of the bill creating the FAFSA requirement, “We always intended for everyone to fill out the FAFSA form—we have no data on these students at all.”
Critics of the measure were concerned about the unintended consequences of requiring that students submit financial and citizenship data for their parents. State Senator Eleanor Sobel (D) worried at the time that the requirement would have the effect of denying scholarships to legal students who are the children of illegal immigrants.
There were further concerns about how schools would verify citizenship for students who completed the FAFSA in paper form. The Florida Department of Education directed schools in July of 2011 to verify citizenship directly. Quoted in a report by StateImpactFlorida (NPR), Senator Sobel said, “They’re like surrogate immigration officials now. And I don’t think that colleges and universities want to get into that.”
The FAFSA requirement has generated a fair amount of controversy in the public sphere as well, in the form of lawsuits. A 2011 lawsuit filed by William Lawrence alleged that the requirement contradicted both the “letter and intent” of Bright Futures, as the program is a merit-based scholarship, not need-based. The lawsuit further alleged that Lawrence’s privacy rights were violated in that he was being compelled to provide private information.
How It Affects You
- Students wishing only to receive Bright Futures, and no federal financial aid, need not complete a FAFSA.
- While all additional Bright Futures renewal requirements still apply, students who were required to complete a FAFSA in order to receive Bright Futures during 2012-13 need not complete it for 2013-14.
- Students who wish to be considered for need-based aid are still required to complete a FAFSA for 2013-14.
Friday, April 19th, 2013
For students who might be asked by SFA to provide their 2012 federal income tax information, and who might have “unusual circumstances” with their taxes, the IRS has provided some helpful guidance.
Verification of 2012 IRS Income Tax Return Information for Individuals Granted a Filing Extension by the IRS
If an individual is required to file a 2012 IRS income tax return and has been granted a filing extension by the IRS, provide the following documents:
- A copy of the IRS Form 4868, ‘‘Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return,’’ that was filed with the IRS for tax year 2012; and
- A copy of IRS Form W–2 for each source of employment income received for tax year 2012 and, if self-employed, a signed statement certifying the amount of the individual’s AGI and the U.S. income tax paid for tax year 2012.
Verification of 2012 IRS Income Tax Return Information for Individuals Who Filed an Amended IRS Income Tax Return
If an individual filed an amended IRS income tax return for tax year 2012, provide both of the following:
- A signed copy of the original 2012 IRS income tax return that was filed with the IRS or a 2012 IRS Tax Return Transcript (signature not required) for the 2012 tax year; and
- A signed copy of the 2012 IRS Form 1040X, “Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return,” that was filed with the IRS.
Verification of 2012 IRS Income Tax Return Information for Individuals Who Were Victims of IRS Identity Theft
A victim of IRS identity theft who has been unable to obtain a 2012 IRS Tax Return Transcript or use the IRS DRT must provide a signed copy of the 2012 paper IRS income tax return that was filed with the IRS and a signed copy of IRS Form 14039 “Identity Theft Affidavit” if one was submitted to the IRS. If the individual did not keep a copy of Form 14039 or the IRS did not require him or her to submit one, he or she may provide one of the following:
- A statement signed and dated by the individual indicating that he or she was a victim of IRS identity theft and that the IRS is investigating the matter. The statement must also indicate that the individual submitted a Form 14039 to the IRS, but did not keep a copy of it or that he or she was not required to file the form; or
- A copy of a police report if it was filed related to the IRS identify theft.
Verification of 2012 Income Tax Return Information for Individuals Who Filed Non-IRS Income Tax Returns
If an individual filed or will file a 2012 income tax return with Puerto Rico, another U.S. territory (e.g., Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Northern Marianas Islands), or with a foreign country, provide a signed copy of that 2012 income tax return(s).Tagged as: IRS, taxes, verification