College Admissions Expert Elizabeth Levine: FAFSA Mistakes
What are some of the errors people make when completing the FAFSA (Federal Financial Aid) form?Listed below are common errors people make when completing the FAFSA that can potentially mean tens of thousands of dollars to your bottom line when it comes to receiving financial aid.
1. Missing the college's financial aid priority deadline – Look on the college web site to know when this date is. If you don't submit your forms by the deadline you are not guaranteed any funds, even if you have demonstrated need
2. Waiting until your previous years taxes are file – You can complete the FAFSA with your estimated tax information. If you want until your taxes are completed you may have missed the school's priority deadline (see #1)
3. Transposing digits/entering cents – Only enter whole dollars and review your answers prior to submitting. For example, entering $395,634 vs. $935,634 in parental non retirement assets can mean the difference between receiving aid or not
4. Marital status as of the date you file – Do not anticipate what your martial status will be at some point in the future. Report your marital status as of the date filed
5. Divorced/separated parents reporting both parent's income and assets or the wrong parents income and assets. The parent that the student spent most of their time with for the year is the parent's income and assets that are used
6. Not including stepparents children in Household Size –As long as the stepparent spends at least 50% in supporting their children they can be included in the household size number reported, even if they don't live with them
7. Not reporting stepparent financial information – Even though they are not the biological parent of the child heading to college if they are married to the parent of that child and living in their household so their income and assets need to be reported
8. Reporting retirement assets and primary home equity – Only non-retirement assets and secondary home equity is reported on the FAFSA
9. Not reporting unusual circumstances to the school's financial office – If you have had a significant event that affected your finances report it to the school (loss of employment, illness in the family that caused high medical expenses…etc.). You can file an appeal and potentially receive additional aid
10. Failing to apply for financial aid – If you don't file, you will with all certainty not receive any financial aid
If you have any questions about the college admissions process or the above information please do not hesitate to contact me at email@example.com or by phone, 845.551.6946.
Signature College Counseling is an Orange County, Hudson Valley based company
that works one on one with students and their families in navigating the admissions process so you attend the college that is right for you.
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