Home > Financial Aid > Financial Aid Tips > Tips For Completing the FAFSA

Tips For Completing the FAFSA

The financial aid from your intended college and the federal government is determined by your FAFSA. That’s why it is important to take your application seriously, and finish your forms early. For help, browse through our site for advice, or call the Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC) at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243), visit the federal student aid website, or contact the financial aid administrator at your intended college.

After your FAFSA is processed, you will receive a Student Air Report (SAR) with a summary of your financial aid information, and see your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) which is the amount your family is expected to pay for a college education. College is a major expense, so do not take the FAFSA lightly. Check out our tips for completing the FAFSA below so you are ready to file the application as soon as it’s available from the U.S. Department of Education on January 1st.

  • Have the following documents and information ready when filling out the FAFSA:
    • Your most recent year's tax forms, or end-of-the-year pay stubs
    • Your W-2 forms
    • Records of the most recent year's untaxed income, such as child support and support from agencies such as Social Services, Social Security, and the Veteran Administration. Do not attach copies of these documents to your FAFSA, they are only for reference when you file.
    • The student's correct social security number
  • Do not leave any questions blank. If your answer is zero, then write "0".
  • Read and follow instructions carefully, even if you have filled out the FAFSA before, because questions and instructions change.
  • If you are a parent with multiple children, fill out a separate FAFSA for each student. Make sure each social security number is correct for each child, incorrect SSNs delay processing.
  • If you are a dependent student, ask your parents to help you fill out the FAFSA. Financial aid offices contact the student first so it is important that both you and your parent(s) know the information on the FAFSA.
  • Obtain the Federal school code from the school or schools you are interested in attending.
  • Double check figures and calculations. 40% of the forms with mistakes are delayed.
  • Do not report the net value of your primary residence. Asset questions are only for secondary and investment properties.
  • Both the parent and the student (if applicable) must sign and date the FAFSA.
  • Fill out the forms early. This gives you an advantage because campus-based aid is awarded on a first-come first-serve basis. Also, the FAFSA must be filed every year. Report any changes in your financial situation to your financial aid administrator because they can affect your eligibility. Do not sign, date, or mail the FAFSA before January 1st.

Latest College & Financial Aid News

Middle Class Students Now Qualify for Full Scholarships at Rice University

September 18, 2018

by Susan Dutca

Photo courtesy of Rice University

Some middle-class families may qualify for free tuition scholarships or grants to attend Rice University under a brand-new financial aid plan. The new initiative, called The Rice Investment, will provide full-tuition scholarships to families with incomes up to $130,000 and tuition cuts for families with incomes up to $200,000. [...]

Colleges Drop Nike over Controversial Kaepernick Ad

September 11, 2018

by Susan Dutca

Nike gear will not be worn by athletes at The College of the Ozarks following the company's latest ads featuring Colin Kaepernick, claiming it would "choose its country over company." According to the college president, "in their new ad campaign, we believe Nike executives are promoting an attitude of division and disrespect toward America." [...]

College Housing Shortage Prompts Request for Professors' Help

September 4, 2018

by Susan Dutca

Hundreds of colleges are short of space for housing students and some are already turning study lounges into dorm rooms, doubles into triples, and triples into quads. Others are being forced to house students in off-campus apartments and hotels and offer discounts to anyone willing to live in a more-remote dorm.

[...]

Last Reviewed: September 2018