If you’re hoping to receive financial aid in college, you'll need to complete the FAFSA questionnaire to determine your eligibility. One of the things that affects eligibility for financial aid in college is the income you or your parents bring in the year before your application. How much do your parents make? This may seem like an easy question, but it can become much more complicated when you start factoring in benefits like supplemental security income or SSI.
SSI, or Social Security Income, does count toward FAFSA under untaxed income and benefits.
What's Supplemental Security Income?
Supplemental security income, often abbreviated as SSI, is a governmental benefit designed to aid people with disabilities or those who are 65 years old or older. SSI provides a small allowance to help these individuals pay for the necessities of life that they otherwise might not be able to afford without the benefit.
Should You Report Disability Income on FAFSA?
If you or your parents are receiving SSI, you'll need to report that disability income on FAFSA. SSI is counted as untaxed income and benefits, so it's part of the total adjusted gross income you’ll have to report. That also means that SSI will have an impact on your eligibility for need-based financial aid.
But don’t worry. The odds are that if you qualify for SSI and you've reported disability income on FAFSA, you will likely qualify for need-based financial aid as well. Make sure you fill out the FAFSA thoroughly and accurately. The only way you can hurt your chances of receiving need-based financial aid is if you hide benefits or income on the application.
SSI and College Students
If you’re already receiving disability income and you’re planning on going to school, you probably have a lot of questions regarding SSI and college students. It's likely that if you’re already receiving SSI, you'll be able to continue to receive it while you’re in school. However, there’s a different set of rules that governs SSI and college students. These are referred to as Student Earned Income Exclusions or SEIE. According to SEIE, you can still work to pay for your schooling, and up to a certain amount can be excluded while still allowing you to receive the same amount of benefits. For 2018, you can earn $1,820 a month, up to $7,350 per year, before the earnings start to reduce your benefit allowance.
Rebecca Renner is a teacher and college professor from Florida. She loves teaching about literature, and she writes about books for Book Riot, Real Simple, Electric Literature and more.