Don’t Make the 7 Common FAFSA Filing Mistakes
1) Not Completing FAFSA
If you don’t get in the race, you’ll never see the finish line. Some think the form is too long and too hard to finish. Some say, “It doesn’t matter, I won’t qualify anyways.” Some say, “My parent’s make too much money, so it’s a waste of my time.” You have potential of receiving thousands of dollar for spending 20-25 minutes of you time. To me, it’s a no brainer. That said, please get in the race!
“When you put yourself on the line in a race and expose yourself to the unknown, you learn things about yourself that are very exciting.” – Doris Brown Heritage
2) Not Doing Your Research and Not Being Prepared
If you have not talked to your Guidance Counselor or Career Center Specialist at you high school, I highly recommend you do that and soon. Talk to other parents and share your experiences. You can also consult with a professional financial advisor. Once you have done the above, you are ready to go to http://fafsa.ed.gov and start entering your information. To speed up the process, make sure you have the following:
- Your Social Security Number
- Your Alien Registration Number (if you are not a U.S. citizen)
- Your most recent federal income tax returns, W-2s, and other records of money earned. (Note: You may be able to transfer your federal tax return information into your FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.)
- Bank statements and records of investments (if applicable)
- Records of untaxed income (if applicable)
- A Federal Student Aid ID to sign electronically.
- If you are a dependent student, then you will also need most of the above information for your parent(s). If you have questions about your dependency status or need more information, visit https://studentaid.ed.gov/fafsa/filling-out/dependency#am-i-dependent-or-independent.
3) Not Taking Your Time & Rushing Through
Too many people skim through and/or rush through the FAFSA process. I highly recommend you read the instructions carefully and twice before entering. You can avoid the financial aid delays and future headaches by spending few extra minutes now. Save yourself from the hair pulling moments later.
4) Inputting Wrong Information By Accident
Believe it or not, some students and parents have mis-typed their names on the FAFSA form. It’s easy to mistype or transpose letters, so double check your entries. Also, be sure to type your name as it appears on the official government documents. No nicknames please. Check and double-check to see that you’ve entered your social security number correctly. It may be silly to remind you, but it has happened and it will happen again.
5) Not Utilizing the IRS Data Retrieval Tool
Almost unanimously, entering the financial information and accurately has to be the most difficult part about filling the FAFSA form. To make this simpler for students and parents who are eligible, you can now automatically transfer the necessary tax info into the FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. This tool will definitely prevent the errors make on FAFSA; and therefore avoiding the processing delays.
6) OMG! Not Signing The FAFSA Form
Definitely a dunce cap moment and sit in the corner time! For one reason or another, the FAFSA form is not submitted. Don’t forget to enter your PIN and submit the form. After you submit the FAFSA, go back in and confirm. Failure to sign and submit will definitely delay your financial aid. Yes, you do have from January 1-June 30 to file; however, many of the federal student aid programs funds will run out. Applying as soon as you can is highly recommended.
7) Not Getting A Professional Advice
FAFSA form is a government document. Need I say more? Like most any other government documents, sometimes you’ll need to flesh out your inner Sherlock Holmes to navigate through it all. To avoid the mistakes in the first place, contacting a college financial aid specialist is highly advised. Yes I am biased a little, but call AGM College Planning, LLC at (877) 212-0011 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.