Home > Financial Aid > Financial Aid Tips > Mistakes When Completing the FAFSA

Mistakes When Completing the FAFSA

The most important step in the financial aid process is filling out your FAFSA, which determines your eligibility for financial aid from your intended college and the federal government. Most students don’t pay for college out-of-pocket, so pay close attention to the directions on the FAFSA because mistakes will delay your application. Although you can correct errors once you get your Student Aid Report (SAR), those mistakes will shorten your timeline and cause you to miss college financial aid deadlines.

ADVERTISEMENT

Fill out the FAFSA as soon as it’s available January 1st to avoid last-minute hassles and common mistakes before sending in your financial aid application. To get the fastest results, apply online. The online FAFSA catches mistakes, and provides worksheets to avoid any tax-related mistakes. See our list of ways to avoid making common mistakes when completing the FAFSA so that your application, and your financial aid, won’t be delayed.

  1. Verify your Social Security number. Your SSN is the most important identifying information on your application.
  2. Sign and date the form. Both the student and a parent for a dependent student must sign. If you file the FAFSA online, print, sign, and mail the signature page once you’ve completed the application.
  3. Complete the entire form. List the net worth of your assets as of the day you complete the FAFSA. If your answer to some questions is zero, write "0". Do not leave any answer blank. Also, do not skip the “drug convictions” questions.
  4. Do not leave the fields on earnedincome blank. Report the wages, salaries, and tips earned from the students’ work and each parent if the student is dependent. Report the wages, salaries, and tips earned from work for the student and spouse if the student is independent. Income is not counted twice. Income determines your allowance for Social Security tax payments and a special allowance for families where both parents are employed or the student and spouse are employed.
  5. Report income tax, which is determined by the tax tables on the income tax form. Do not report the amount withheld by your employer as shown on your W-2 form.
  6. Report the correct number of people who live in your household or attend school. If you are a dependent student, report only the people who live with your parents and receive more than half of their support from your parents. If you are an independent student, report only the people living in your household receive more than half of their support from you. To be included in the number of people listed in school on your FAFSA, your sibling(s), spouse and/or children must be attending at least six hours in one term, and working towards a degree from a college that participates in federal financial aid programs. Parents are excluded from that number.
  7. Verify your Federal School Code so that you’re sending your financial aid information to the right colleges.
  8. Answer "no" to graduate student status if you’re not working toward your second degree.
  9. List the current marital status of your custodial parent, the parent you reside with and whose information is listed on the FAFSA, even if they are divorced or remarried.
  10. Use your permanent mailing address on the application, not your campus or summer address

ADVERTISEMENT

Latest College & Financial Aid News

What is the FAFSA?

October 8, 2021

by Scholarships.com Staff

FAFSA is an acronym. It stands for "Free Application for Federal Student Aid". Please take note that the first word in the acronym is "Free". You do not need to pay to fill out the FAFSA but there are certainly websites out there that will charge you for their assistance. If you are asked for a credit card at any point in the process, you are at one of these sites. If you do not want to pay to complete the FAFSA, be sure to apply at https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa. The FAFSA must be completed by you and your family each year if you wish to be considered for need-based grants from the college or university you are or will be attending as well as subsidized student loans. [...]

Want to Study Abroad? Find Scholarships

August 31, 2021

by Scholarships.com Staff

A study abroad program can be the beginning of the most exciting chapter of your college experience. Often, the travel, housing, credits and even food are included in the price of the program you choose. However, this is no reason not to look for more financial opportunities! [...]

Movie Night! College Classics

August 19, 2021

by Scholarships.com Staff

As you get ready for this next big step in your life, this last year at home can feel like the longest and the shortest you ever had! While you prepare to select a college and research scholarships and financial aid, don’t forget to spend some quality time with your friends and family. While movies, even when based on a true story, are always a little bit fantastic, they are also works of art that share experiences among their viewers. [...]

Last Reviewed: October 2021