7 biggest mistakes when filing the FAFSA

Kim Demaa in Financial Aid

Don’t fall for it! Here are seven common mistakes applying for financial aid:

Not Completing the FAFSA

Students state all kinds of reasons: “The FAFSA is too hard,” “It takes too long to complete,” I never qualify anyway, so why does it matter.” It does matter. By not completing the FAFSA, students may be missing out on the opportunity to qualify for what could be thousands of dollars to help pay for college.

Not Being Prepared

The online FAFSA has gotten a lot easier over the last few years. But, the key to making the FAFSA simple is being prepared. Students can save a lot of time by gathering their information before they start the application.

Not Reading Carefully

When it comes to completing the FAFSA, students should read each question carefully. Too many students see delays in their financial aid for simple mistakes that could have been easily avoided.

In particular pay attention to these questions:

  • Number of Family Members (Household size): Students should be sure to read the instructions carefully. Many students incorrectly report this number.
  • Amount of Income Tax: Income tax is not the same as income. It is the amount of tax that the student (and if married, their spouse) paid on his or her income earned from work.

Inputting Incorrect Information

The FAFSA is an official government form. Students must enter your information as it appears on official government documents like their birth certificate and social security card. Examples:

  • Entering the Wrong Name: You wouldn’t believe how many people have issues with their FAFSA because they entered an incorrect name on the application. Students must enter their full name as it appears on official government documents. No nicknames.
  • Entering the Wrong Social Security Number (SSN): To avoid delays in processing their application, students should triple check that they have entered the correct SSN.

Not Reporting Parent Information When They Are Required To

Dependency guidelines for the FAFSA are determined by Congress and are different from those of the IRS.

Not Using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool

For many, the most difficult part about filling out the FAFSA is entering in the financial information. But now, thanks to a partnership with the IRS, students and parents who are eligible can automatically transfer the necessary tax info into the FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. It’s also one of the best ways to prevent errors on the FAFSA and avoid any processing delays.

Not filing in time.

Make sure to file your FAFSA by Moraine Park’s priority date-April 15!

For more information check out www.fafsa.gov or www.morainepark.edu/financial-aid.

For more great blogs about Federal Student Aid, check out blog.ed.gov!

Written by Julie Waldvogel-Leitner
Director of Admissions