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Avoid Common FAFSA Errors

Errors can delay processing of your financial aid package.  To avoid errors, carefully read all of the questions on the FAFSA.  Some of the most common errors are:

     •  Listing an incorrect social security number or name: An error in either of these can cause significant
        delays.  Make sure to use your legal name on the FAFSA exactly as it appears on your social security card.

     •  Failure to report stepparent's information if custodial parent is remarried: Stepparent information is
        required on the FAFSA.

     •  Incorrect reporting of certain assets: Do NOT report the value of:
          o   the home you live in
          o   the value of tax-sheltered retirement plans (i.e. 401(k), 403(b), pension funds, IRA's, Keogh plans)
          o   the value of a small business if your family owns and controls more than 50 percent of the business
               and the business has 100 or fewer full-time employees
          o   the value of a family farm you live on and operate

     •  Failure to enter untaxed income information:
o   Report 2015 contributions to tax-deferred pension and savings plans (found on W-2 forms in Boxes 12a-12d, 
              codes D, E, F, G, H and S).
          o   Report child support received for all children in the household, not just the aid applicant.

     •  Failure to report accurate household size: Be sure to read the FAFSA instructions for this item.  Also,
        do NOT include parents in the number of people who will be college students.

     •  Forgetting to have student and parent sign the FAFSA: Missing signatures cause
        delays in processing the application.

     •  Failure to report net worth of qualified educational benefits or education savings accounts:
        Examples include, but are not limited to, Coverdell savings accounts, 529 college savings plans
        and the refund value of 529 prepaid tuition plans.

     •  Leaving blank fields: When there is no monetary value to report, use -0- (zero).  Do NOT leave an answer
        blank unless you are instructed to skip a section.  Blank responses can delay processing of your application.

     •  Failure to register with Selective Service: If you are a male, aged 18-25, you are required to register with
        Selective Service.  Failure to do so will make you ineligible for federal student aid.  You can register within
        the FAFSA or directly with the Selective Service at

     •  Listing marital status incorrectly: The Department of Education wants to know both parent and 
        student marital status on the date you sign the FAFSA.

     •  Entering the wrong federal income tax paid amount: This amount is found on your federal tax return,
        NOT your W-2's.  If you haven't filed your taxes yet, you can estimate this amount.

     •  Leaving wages blank: If you have W-2, business, or farm income, include these amounts as wages for the
        appropriate person.

     •  Changing the value of assets after the FAFSA is signed: The FAFSA is considered a "snapshot"
        of your family's financial situation as of the date the FAFSA is signed.  Correct the value of assets ONLY if
        the value was originally reported in error.