FAFSA, which stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is an electronically submitted form used to determine an individual's financial need for post-secondary schooling. This may include a series of things like loans, private scholarships, grants and other federally backed monetary exchanges. For that reason, it's crucial for the information that's submitted to be as accurate and error-free as possible. On average, somewhere around 30 percent of all FAFSAs submitted are selected for verification-a preliminary measure intended to reduce the occurrence of errors. Certain universities and college campuses require all of their FAFSAs to undergo strict verification.
What happens if there's an error?
If the verification process turns up some errors, not only will it cause the entire process to be delayed but it'll also cost you some additional fees. Just take a few minutes to double check your answers and you won't have the added stress or cost. Until then, take a look at these five common FAFSA mishaps to help you avoid any errors on yours.
Mishap #1: Marital Status
Misreporting marital status is one of the most common mistakes made. If you're intention is to file as a "married" student, then be aware that you must be officially married on the date or before you sign your FAFSA. Sorry, an unsanctioned marriage will not suffice for the FAFSA form.
Mishap #2: Inclusion On Household Size
Can you guess who many people forget to include on the number in the 'household size' category? Themselves! Remember to include yourself in the household size even if you are not currently or have not recently been living in your parent's household.
Mishap #4 The Deadline Isn't Flexible
This isn't high school anymore. You can't just ask for an extension because the deadline slipped your mind. If you're serious about starting your college career start getting serious about deadlines. Here's a sneak peak: to be considered for federal aid in the 2015-2015 school year the entry period is between January 1, 2015 and June 30, 2015. Get a head start!
Mishap #5 "If In Doubt, Leave It Out" Does Not Apply
If you don't happen to know the answer to one of the questions, don't leave it blank! This mistake is one of the most common because no one takes the time to find the answer. If you're uncertain about what a question means, check the FAFSA's General Questions page. They're posted so you don't have to leave a question blank. Otherwise contact them via telephone at the Federal Student Aid Information Center or online through email.
Just To Be Safe
One great tool you can use to minimize the chances of inaccurately reporting information is with the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. This neat little tool allows you to copy answers from your federal income tax return onto your FAFSA form.
The five aforementioned mistakes are easily avoidable and can be circumvented by just taking a few cautionary steps. Remember to legitimize your marriage status before publishing it on your FAFSA, include yourself in the household sum, mark important deadlines, and inquire about any uncertain questions.