Although you may meet all the requirements to receive federal student aid, there’s still one obstacle that can prevent you from getting the aid you deserve: “making a mistake when you fill out your FAFSA“.
To ensure you don’t jeopardize the support you’re eligible to receive, you need to avoid these top 10 most common FAFSA mistakes:
#1 Incorrect Social Security Number
When it comes to the FAFSA, your social security number is your identity. If you mess up even one digit, it can cause processing issues. Because this part of the FAFSA is so important, not only do you want to double check it, but you should also have a friend or family member check it for you. Be just as careful when you fill in your driver’s license number.
#2 Mistaking AGI for Total Income
Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) does not equal Total Income.
AGI = Income – Adjustments.
Generally speaking, the higher your Adjusted Gross Income, the less financial aid for which you will be eligible. If you’re not sure what number to fill in, go to someone with financial experience for help.
#3 Blank Fields
If an item doesn’t apply to you, don’t leave it blank. Depending on the specific field, fill it in with not applicable or the number 0.
#4 Married When Actually Single
Even if you’re engaged, if you’re not legally married when you fill out and submit the FAFSA, make sure you list your marital status as single.
#5 Not Listing a College
Many applicants forget to fill in the Federal School Code for the college they’re planning to attend. Not only do you want to use the correct code for your primary school, but you should also include codes for any other colleges where you’ve sent applications.
#6 Inaccurate Tax Payment Amount
The amount of federal income tax you paid does not come from a W-2 form. Instead, you’ll find this piece of information on the forms for your income tax return.
#7 Not Rounding to the Nearest Dollar
Although your math teacher may insist on you writing out numbers with their decimals intact, that’s not what you want to do on your FAFSA. Instead, you should round any decimals to the nearest dollar. You should also avoid using commas in any of the number fields.
#8 Intentionally Leaving a Blank Empty
Some applicants are concerned that marking yes in the blank that asks about drug-related offenses will prevent them from getting aid. While that’s actually not true, failing to tell the truth about this issue can take away your eligibility.
#9 Incorrect Parent Information
If your biological parents are divorced but your primary guardian is remarried, you need to include the requested information about your stepparent.
#10 Not Signing and Dating
Last but certainly not least, don’t forget to sign and date your FAFSA! If you’re filing your application online, your FAFSA PIN is the digital equivalent of your signature.
Although it can take some time to properly fill out an entire FAFSA, the potential benefits of the aid you’ll receive make this process well worth the effort.