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Common Errors on the FAFSA

Common Errors on the FAFSA

Mike Pugh, FastWeb

A mistake on your FAFSA can delay the processing of your application by up to three weeks. One in seven FAFSA forms is returned due to errors. It could happen to you.

Avoid the most common mistakes:

1. The most frequent mistake made is leaving a field blank. If the answer is zero or the question does not apply to you, write in a zero. If you leave a question blank, the processor will assume that you forgot to answer.

2. Use the 1040 federal tax return for income reporting and reporting taxes paid. Some parents and students mistakenly use their W-2 form.

3. Don’t forget to report all the required sources of untaxed income. These include Social Security, child support and Aid to Dependent Children (ADC).

4. Report your correct marital status. If you plan to file as a married student, you must be married on or before the date that you sign your FAFSA.

5. Make sure to include your stepparent’s information.

6. Include yourself in the household size. Even if you didn’t live there during the previous year, you should always include yourself as part of your parent’s household.

7. Don’t forget to sign the application. If you’re filing as a dependent, both you and your parents must sign. If you file online, you and your parents can sign the form electronically using your PIN numbers.

8. Remember to file on time. Priority for programs with limited funds is often given to students who file the FAFSA as soon after January 1 as possible.

9. As with all forms and applications, make sure you read the instructions and questions carefully. If you’re unclear about a question or are having trouble filling out the FAFSA, check the FAQ section on the FAFSA Web site, or call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED AID (1-800-433-3243).

10. On the paper form, follow instructions with regard to using a pen or pencil.

To avoid these errors, get started early. Use the Pre-Application Worksheet to insure you’ve gathered all the necessary information. Be sure to proofread your application before you submit it. Fill it out right the first time, and you’ll have your financial aid letter in no time.


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