Ideally, you should complete a FAFSA after you've done your tax return, but don't wait until April. Many schools award aid on a first-come, first-served basis. Also, you may not be eligible for state aid if you wait until April to submit your FAFSA. Many state aid deadlines are early in the calendar year. If you haven't submitted your tax return, you should calculate your
adjusted gross income (AGI) and taxes paid using the instructions for IRS Form 1040.
You can get the instructions and the form at a public library or download them in
Portable Document Format (PDF). Keep in mind that if you submit your application before you complete a tax return,
you may need to make corrections later if your income or tax information isn't
accurate. You will also need to return any federal student aid you received based
upon incorrect information.
You might have to provide your school with a copy of your completed tax return
(assuming you're required to file one) before you receive federal student aid.