8 Common FAFSA Errors

One of the most important responsibilities for every college student is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Given the high cost of college, FAFSA is the best way to take advantage of important financial resources, including scholarships, grants, student loans, and work-study programs.

Thinking You Won't Qualify

A recent study found that nearly 25 percent of students did not submit their FAFSA. A common reason that students don't apply is they believe their parents make too much money to qualify for financial aid. For many students, this could mean losing out on thousands of dollars to help pay for college. Income is an important factor in determining financial aid, but there is no income cap to apply.

Not Getting an FSA ID

Before you sit down to fill out the FAFSA form, at least one parent and the student need to apply for an FSA ID. It's a unique username and password used to log into your federal student aid account. It's also used to electronically sign and complete the FAFSA application.

Applying for the FSA ID takes just a few minutes, but the application process can take up to three days to complete so, remember to apply for this first.

Using the Wrong Social Security Number

Most adults can rattle off their Social Security number quicker than their own telephone number. For this reason, we may get a little trigger happy with the computer keyboard while entering those digits.

Take your time and double-check that everyone's Social Security Number is entered properly. A mistake here could mean having to contact the financial aid office at your college or submitting a whole new FAFSA form.

Using the Wrong Website

Filing for the FAFSA is FREE!

If you end up on a website that's asking for a credit card, you're on the wrong site. The official FAFSA website is fafsa.gov.

Not Listing Other Siblings in College

It's not unusual for families to have two, or possibly three, children in college at the same time. It can put a large financial strain on the family's budget. For anyone with two or more children in college, the federal government needs to know.

FAFSA forms for all students in the family should reflect every college student a family is supporting. This will be important when the federal government calculates your family's expected family contribution, or EFC.

When a family has multiple students in college, the EFC for each student is adjusted down, which could help students qualify for more financial aid. Remember that each student in the family needs to complete a separate FAFSA form.

Not Listing Schools You May Attend

Students may not know which college they will attend next year, but they can still fill out the FAFSA form. List all the schools the student is considering, so each institution will receive your financial aid information.

This is important because every school distributes financial aid differently. Check with each school's financial aid office to understand how they handle student aid. You can also update the FAFSA later if you want to add another school to your list.

Not Completing FAFSA as Soon as it's Available

Don't let FAFSA hang over your head for months. The FAFSA form is available for filing on or after October 1. Complete it as soon as possible, because state grant funds do run out.

Most schools award financial aid on a first-come, first-served basis. You don't want to miss out on valuable financial resources because you procrastinated.

Another helpful tool to get those FAFSA forms completed; FAFSA is going mobile. Check out the changes for the 2019-2020 form.

Stopping the Search for Money

Ending your financial aid search with the FAFSA form is a big mistake. There are thousands of dollars in private scholarships out there for all students. In some cases, students who treat the scholarship search as a job can pay for a large portion of school.

College is expensive, so any amount of money you can get from federal and state financial aid, private scholarships, and working a part-time job will help you reach your education goals.

Sometimes that's not enough, and there are resources like NC Assist Loans, to help families bridge the gap. The NC Student Assist Loan and the NC Parent Assist Loan are alternative education loans to help North Carolina families make education a reality.