How can we complete the FAFSA if our income taxes haven't been filed?

Question:

My parents won’t complete their federal tax return before April 15. How can we complete and submit the FAFSA by each school’s deadline date if our taxes won’t be ready?

Answer:

It is important to file the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) as soon as possible after January 1, because many colleges and state agencies use the FAFSA to award their own financial aid funds and some have very early deadlines. Some even award aid on a first-come, first-served basis.

Do not wait until you have filed your federal income tax returns or been admitted to a college or university to file the FAFSA. Instead, use estimates of your income and tax information for the FAFSA. Base the estimates on the last pay stub of the year, any W-2 and 1099 statements and the previous year’s federal income tax returns. Try to estimate your income as accurately as possible, since errors in the income figures can lead to a big change from the initial to the final financial aid award.

After you file your federal income tax returns, you will be required to update the information on the FAFSA. You can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to transfer the information from your federal income tax returns into the FAFSA. Not only will this ensure a more accurate result, but it reduces the likelihood that your FAFSA will be selected for verification.