Millions of families and students across the nation are gearing up to gain access to available financial aid dollars. The first step in this process is completing the FAFSA (and I always recommend doing it online!). However, as eager as you are to complete this Free Application for Federal Student Aid, I want you to take heed of the following list of mistakes that can be avoided if you take your time and give the FAFSA you full attention. Remember, a little mistake on the FAFSA now could cost you thousands of dollars in lost financial aid later and I want to make sure you are maximizing all your resources (including those that are a result of the FAFSA).
What Not To Do On The FAFSA!:
- List Marital Status Incorrectly- Only put yes in the box if you are married the day that you are filing your FAFSA. If you are getting married in a week or two months from now, no one cares. (I mean..people care.. truly they do… just not the ones processing your FAFSA)
- On the same note.. Listing Parental Marital Status Incorrectly- This is for the custodial parent only (the one the student lives with most during the year). If the custodial parent is remarried, you will need to provide step-mom or step-dad’s information as well.
- Listing Incorrect Driver’s License or Social Security Number- You would think that this would be simple but this is a very common mistake.
- Leaving Fields Blank- Always enter a “0” in the field or put N/A. If you are doing the FAFSA online, they should stop you along the way if you leave an “important” field blank.. but it is not guaranteed
- Use Commas or Decimal Points in Numeric Fields- Just round up or down to the nearest dollar and you will be just fine
- Entering the Wrong Federal Income Tax Paid- Next year you won’t have to worry about this if you have the information automatically uploaded from the IRS but for now make sure you get this number from your federal tax forms and not your W-2’s
- Leaving the Question About Drug Related Offenses Blank- If you are convicted, you may not lose your aid, but it certainly doesn’t help your chances. Just be honest and answer the question appropriately.
- Entering the Wrong Address- It is very common for students to use their summer address or campus address. You will want to use your permanent home address.
- Forgetting to List Your Colleges- The drop down boxes on the online FAFSA should alleviate this problem but you want to make sure you list EVERY college you are interested in. You have up to ten slots available so don’t be shy.
- Forgetting to Sign and Date- If you are doing the paper form (which hopefully you are not!) don’t forget to put your John Henry at the bottom. If you are doing the online version, you will need to sign the FAFSA electronically using your Federal Pin.
Hope you find this information helpful as you complete the FAFSA this year. If you know of any family members or friends that will be embarking on this exciting rite of passage, please be sure to send these tips to them utilizing the share tab below.