By Kendell Shaffer
When completing the FAFSA form it’s important to follow directions carefully and with over 100 fields, anyone can make mistakes. Here are a few tips to help you get started and some common mistakes to avoid.
2. Federal Student Aid ID – Your student needs to obtain a Federal Student Aid ID number and use their ID number at the start of the form.
3. IRS Data Retrieval Tool – When asked, use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to attach tax returns to the FAFSA form.
4. Prior-Prior Tax Returns – FAFSA will ask for the parent’s prior-prior year tax return. In other words, the 2017 tax return is required for the 2019 application.
Top Ten Mistakes to Avoid:
1. File Early and On Time – The form opens on October 1 and some college programs have limited funding that could run out if not applied for early.
2. Use Correct Social Security Number and Driver’s License Numbers – Changing the social security number is the only mistake that cannot be corrected. If the wrong SS number is used, a new form must be generated.
3. Make Sure To Select Colleges to Send FAFSA Form To – Up to ten schools can be selected and will be sent your student’s FAFSA. If the schools are not selected, then your student won’t be eligible for financial aid.
4. Use Student’s Full Legal Name – The student’s name must be consistent with what is on the parents tax return
5. Use Correct Marital Status – Correct listings of both parent’s marital status is a must. If one or both parents are remarried, that information must be included as well.
6. Don’t Leave Blank Fields – Leaving too many fields blank can disqualify an applicant.
7. Males Register for Selective Service – Failure to register for Selective Service for males 18-25 can disqualify an applicant. Registration can be taken care of while filling out FAFSA.
8. Fill out the FAFSA Form Every Year – FAFSA must be filled out every year student attends college.
9. Calculate the HouseHold Dependents Correctly – If the student is attending college are they considered a dependent? Yes! If parents are providing support for that student, they are considered dependents.
10. Sign the FAFSA Form – Not signing FAFSA report is the biggest mistake made. The form is signed using the Federal Student Aid ID number (FSA ID).