The FAFSA Survival Guide: 5 Mistakes to Avoid
Updated: Apr 3, 2019
If you plan on attending university, regardless of what your financial level is, you should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). On October 1st, FAFSA opened their application, and it should be your number one priority to complete this now. It can be an intimidating and tedious process but don’t procrastinate. You could be missing out on money that can go towards your education. To help you navigate the process, here are five mistakes you should avoid making when filling out the FAFSA.
Skipping the FAFSA
The biggest mistake you can make is not filing the FAFSA at all. The FAFSA is not only for students with financial needs; it is for everyone. Income is just one of the many factors used to determine the amount of aid you will receive. Other factors considered are the number of children in a family and how many are enrolled in university at the same time.
According to a survey by the National College Access Network, only 61 percent of high school students file a FAFSA each year, and that number drops for low-income students. That means more than $24 billion in state, federal, and institutional aid is going unused and wasted. Just a few hours on the FAFSA can help make university more affordable.
Not Using the Official Form
The only official FAFSA website is fafsa.gov. If you have to pay or put in credit card details, you are on the wrong site. Before starting, make sure you are completing the form for the 2018-2019 school year. Even if you filled everything out correctly, if you don’t use the right form, you won’t get any aid.
Waiting to file out the FAFSA could mean you are missing out on the money that is “first come first serve.” Many organizations have tight deadlines that vary, so file by December to have the best chance of getting more significant scholarships. The winter deadline list for state agencies can be found on the US Department of Education page.
Not Sending the Information Everywhere
As you file out the FAFSA, you might notice you can send to ten schools on the application. However, if you are planning on applying to more than ten schools, this could seem like a problem. But, once you receive your Student Aid Report (SAR), you can send your financial information to more schools. Any schools codes you add will replace one of the school codes already listed. Once changes are made, any college removed from the list does not have automatic access to any new information you provide after you removed that college. But, unless you are changing something, it is okay because your information is never deleted from the college’s system.
Starting is only half the battle. The FAFSA can be long and difficult, especially for those filing for the very first time. However, completing the FAFSA can have a positive impact on whether or not you stay enrolled in college. According to the NCAN, high school graduates who file the FAFSA are 63% more likely to enroll in college than graduates who don’t fill it out.
Spend a weekend dedicated to completing the FAFSA to make college more affordable, and pave your path to college. If you need help, contact a Moon Prep professional to walk you through the FAFSA process.