Are SSN and ITIN the same thing for FAFSA purposes?

An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) isn’t the same as a Social Security Number (SSN) for Financial Aid Application purposes. Financial Aid Administrators and Enrollment Managers alike, must be aware that the IRS only issues an ITIN to a resident or non-resident alien who does not have, and is not eligible for, a SSN. The ITIN is used for federal tax purposes only has no bearing on eligibility for Social Security benefits or affect the ITIN holder’s immigration status.

When completing the FAFSA, an applicant (or parent of a dependent student) may not use the ITIN in place of a SSN. In the case of a parent who does not have a SSN, all zeros should be entered on the FAFSA wherever it asks for the parent’s Social Security number. The required information from their tax return should still be used to complete the remainder of the income information.

Since a Social Security Number, an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or an Employer Identification Number is required to obtain a verification of nonfiling from the IRS, how can a nontax filer without one of these identifiers meet the verification requirement to obtain confirmation of nonfiling from the IRS?

Effective for the 2017-2018 award year, in circumstances where one or both of the parents of a dependent student or the spouse of an independent student does not have a Social Security Number, an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or an Employer Identification Number and therefore is unable to obtain a verification of nonfiling from the IRS, individuals in these cases and whose income is below the IRS filing threshold must submit to the institution:

  • A signed and dated statement Certifying that the individual(s) does not have a Social Security Number, an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or an Employer Identification Number; and
  • Listing the sources and amounts of earnings, other income, and resources that supported the individual(s) for the appropriate tax year; and
  • If applicable, a copy of IRS Form W–2 for each source of employment income received for the appropriate tax year or an equivalent document.

Note: Individuals who submit W-2s that total a gross income that equals or exceeds the IRS tax filing threshold must request a Social Security Number, an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, or an Employer Identification Number and file an income tax return before the student is eligible to receive Title IV aid.