Thursday, January 13, 2011

10 Most Common FAFSA Mistakes

It's that time again - time to think about filing taxes as soon as possible, once we get all the necessary info, and then filling out the FAFSA.  Last year was our first time, so I'm sure there were some things we could have done better.  This year I'm going to be checking out's Free FAFSA Guide, a comprehensive resource on all things FAFSA, in the hope that we'll do better this time - and maybe get a little more help paying for college.’s Editor in Chief, Dean Tsouvalas, has consulted with the experts to determine the 10 most common mistakes that students and parents make while filling out the FAFSA form. This list is included in’s Free FAFSA Guide.
The top 10 mistakes (and how to avoid them) are:
  1. Leaving blank fields - enter a “0” or “not applicable” instead of leaving it blank. Too many blanks may cause miscalculations and an application rejection.
  2. Listing an incorrect Social Security Number or Driver’s License number - check these entries, and have someone else check them, too. Triple check to be sure.
  3. Using commas or decimal points in a numerical field - always round to the nearest dollar.
  4. Entering the wrong federal income tax paid amount - obtain your federal income paid amount from your income tax return forms, not your W-2 form(s).
  5. Listing marriage status incorrectly - only write “yes” if you’re currently married. They want to know what your marital status is on the day you sign the FAFSA, or renewal FAFSA.
  6. Listing Gross Adjusted Income as equal to total income – these are not the same figure. In most cases, the AGI is larger than the total income. This mistake is particularly common.
  7. Listing parental marital status incorrectly – the custodial parents’ marital status is needed; if they’ve remarried, you’ll need the stepparents’ information, too.
  8. Leaving the question about drug-related offenses blank – if you’re unsure of something, find out before you submit your FAFSA instead of leaving it blank. A conviction doesn’t necessarily disqualify you from receiving aid.
  9. Forgetting to list the college – obtain the Federal School Code for the college you plan on attending and list it – along with any other schools to which you’ve applied.
  10. Forgetting to sign and date – if you’re filling out the paper FAFSA, be sure to sign it. If you’re filing electronically, be sure to obtain your PIN from Your pin is your electronic signature and is assigned to you only.
Whether you're sending a son or daughter off to college or thinking about your own online business degree, hopefully some of these tips will be useful. Also, be sure to check out the rest of the Free FAFSA Guide for even more helpful information. I know I'm going to.
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1 comment:

  1. FAFSA is kind of funny though. I was unsure how they worked - received 1100, but they pro rate it based on my credit hours, so I lost half. That doesn't make sense...


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