If you’ve been exploring your financial aid options to help pay for college, you likely know that a driver’s license is among the many items of information that lenders or grant providers request. But having a license is not always mandatory to secure financial aid.
The FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is the first step in applying for any government-based financial aid through the Department of Education. In fact, most schools consider the FAFSA a mandatory part of the admissions process, regardless of whether you plan to get grants or student loans.
Filling out the FAFSA is a fairly involved process. The Department of Education needs to collect a lot of information to ensure it prioritizes the students with the most financial need. While the process is completely online, it can be confusing.
Why Does the FAFSA Ask for Driver's License?
There is a specific list of information that you’ll need to provide when filling out the FAFSA — and your driver’s license, if you have one, tops the list. Your license verifies your identity and eligibility for federal aid. However, if you don’t have a driver’s license, you can still be eligible for aid. You’ll simply need to use one of the other verification options.
Students do need to provide some identification and financial information with the FAFSA, including:
- Social Security number, to verify identity and tax information.
- Your tax returns for the previous year. If you are married and your spouse filed separate taxes, you also need their tax returns. If you are a dependent student, you need your parents’ return.
- Statements for all of your bank accounts, investments, and other financial holdings, if any.
- Proof of citizenship, legal residence in the United States, or other non-citizen eligibility.
If you receive untaxed income, such as child support payments, interest income, retirement benefits, or veteran’s disability, you’ll need documentation showing the amounts, source, and frequency. All of your financial assets need to be reported correctly. If they’re not, you could be denied all federal aid for the year.
If you are a dependent student, you must know what your parents need to report with the FAFSA process as well. Most likely, whatever information you need about yourself, you’ll also need about your parents. That means they’ll have to collect documentation for their investments and other financial affairs.
In sum, the FAFSA is a critical piece of the college admissions process. Preparing for it correctly can save you an incredible amount of time, confusion, and even money. A driver’s license is important in the application process, but there are alternatives for applicants who do not have a license.