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Be A Responsible Borrower

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The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is used to determine eligibility for Federal Financial Aid.  Many states and colleges use the FAFSA to determine eligibility for nonfederal student aid funds that may have early deadlines or limited funding.

Mistakes on the FAFSA can delay your application and limit the amount of aid you are eligible to receive.  To avoid errors, carefully read all of the questions on the FAFSA.  Some of the most common FAFSA errors are:

  • Not Completing the FAFSA Form

If you don’t complete the FAFSA form, you could lose out on thousands of dollars to help you pay for college. It takes little time to complete, and there are “Help and Hints” provided throughout the application.

  • Not Using the Correct Website

The official FAFSA website is fafsa.gov. That’s “.gov”! You never have to pay to complete the FAFSA form. If you’re asked to provide credit card information, you’re not on the official government website.

  • Not Filling Out the FAFSA Form as Soon as It’s Available

If you want to get the most financial aid possible, fill out the FAFSA form ASAP. Some financial aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, and some states and colleges run out of money early.  Even if it seems like your school’s deadline is far off in the future, get your FAFSA form done ASAP. The 2018–19 FAFSA form requires 2016 tax information, which you should already have—so there’s no excuse to wait!

  • Not Getting an FSA ID Before Filling Out the FAFSA Form

It’s important to get an FSA ID before filling out the FAFSA form. Why? Well, because when you register for an FSA ID, you may need to wait up to three days before you can use it to sign your FAFSA form electronically. An FSA ID is a username and password that you use to log in to certain U.S. Department of Education websites, including fafsa.gov. You AND your parent (if you’re considered a dependent student) will each need your own, separate FSA IDs if you both want to sign your FAFSA form online. DO NOT share your FSA IDs with each other! Doing so could cause problems or delays with your financial aid.  Don’t wait! Create an FSA ID now: StudentAid.gov/fsiad.

  • Listing an incorrect Social Security Number or Driver’s License Number
    • Double-check and triple-check these entries to ensure accuracy. If your parents do not have Social Security Numbers, list 000?00-­0000. Do not make up a number or include a Taxpayer Identification Number.
  • Failing to Use Your Legal Name 
    • Your name must be listed on your FAFSA as it appears on your Social Security card. Don’t enter nicknames or other variations on your name.
  • Listing Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) as Equal to Total Income From Working
    • AGI and total income from working are not necessarily the same. In most cases, the AGI is larger than the total income from working.
  • Incorrectly Filing Income Taxes as Head of Household
    • If there is an error in the head of household filing status, the school will need an amended tax return to be filed with the IRS before paying out aid awards.
  • Listing Parent Marital Status Incorrectly
    • If your custodial parent has remarried, you'll need to include the stepparent's information on the FAFSA. If you have two parents in a legally­?recognized same-­?sex marriage, you’ll need to list both parents (one as Parent 1, and one as Parent 2)
  • Failing to Register with Selective Service
    • If you are a male, aged 18 to 26, you must register with Selective Service. Failure to register will make you ineligible for federal student aid.
  • Not Signing the FAFSA Form
    • So many students answer every single question that is asked, but fail to actually sign the FAFSA form with their FSA ID and submit it. This happens for many reasons—maybe you forgot your FSA ID, or your parent isn’t with you to sign with the parent FSA ID—so your application is left incomplete. Don’t let this happen to you.
      • If you don’t know your FSA ID, select “Forgot username” and/or “Forgot password.”
      • If you don’t have an FSA ID, create one.
         
    • If you’re not able to sign with your FSA ID, there’s an option to mail a signature page. If you would like confirmation that your FAFSA form has been submitted, you can check your status immediately after you submit your FAFSA form online.

 

Make sure that you apply early and do not make one of these common mistakes!

Kimberly Bruce
Director of Financial Aid, LDCC