The FAFSA (or Free Application for Federal Student Aid) asks a lot from its applicants. From tax forms and bank statements to social security numbers and family history, students and their families must dig up a lot of information just to apply.
But the FAFSA also calls for some serious attention to detail and persistence, things that can’t always be produced as easily as a pay stub. When you fill out your application this year, make sure to avoid these five common mistakes so that you can better your chances at receiving some help:
Don’t take deadlines lightly Deadlines already should be a large factor as you fill out and submit your FAFSA. However, there may be more than meets the eye. Be sure to look beyond federal deadlines as different agencies will look at your form (your state and your school, for example) and are also possible sources of aid that you wouldn’t want to miss out on.
Don’t submit and forget It’s easy to submit your FAFSA and think, well it’s out of my hands now. But with online applications, it is possible to edit your form all the way up to September. Make sure to keep a reminder or copy of your application somewhere to prevent you from forgetting about changes you may need to make as the year goes on.
Beware of old rules From year to year, no two FAFSAs are alike, just as no two years are alike. If you spent more time with one parent than you did with another this year, for example, you may be asked to get them to fill it out, even if they didn’t last year. On top of that, rules are constantly changing when it comes to federal regulations, so don’t assume things you already know – verify them.
Don’t be sloppy Whether it’s accidently entering a nickname instead of your legal name or leaving fields blank rather than entering a -0-, small mistakes are usually a result of rushing the process. Take your time, double-check, and exercise common sense when filling out the FAFSA. A list of the common small mistakes commonly made on the FAFSA for this award year can be found on the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators page here.
Don’t think you’re alone For each student there will be unique and difficult problems. For example, if your parents are going back to school this year, do you list them as college students in your household, too? (You don’t.) But as unique as these issues will seem, they’ve happened to other students, and there are people there to help. Don’t hesitate to seek help for all issues, big or small.
Need one-on-one time to discuss student aid? Contact ACI Specialty Benefits at (800) 932-0034, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also find ACI on Twitter at @ACISpecBenefits or on facebook, Google+, Pinterest, or YouTube.