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5 Most Common FAFSA Mistakes You Can Avoid

by Kaitlyn Wightman
Marketing Specialist

January 23, 2015

The priority deadline is February 1 for submitting your FAFSA. 

This doesn’t mean you can’t submit your FAFSA on February 2. In fact, you can submit your FAFSA any day throughout the academic year. Remember that the sooner you submit your FAFSA, the sooner you know how much financial aid you can receive for the upcoming school year. 

Don’t delay filling out the FAFSA because you think it’s too painful or difficult. Avoid these five common FAFSA mistakes so that you receive your financial aid sooner. 

Mistake #1: Not Completing The FAFSA

Not completing the FAFSA means missing the opportunity to qualify for loans, grants and even scholarships to help pay for your college degree costs now. 

Don’t tell yourself that filling out the FAFSA is too hard or that it takes too long to fill out. Contrary to popular belief, it takes an average of 25 minutes to fill out the FAFSA. Practice filling out the FAFSA with this “FAFSA on the Web” worksheet found at until you feel comfortable filling out the official form. 

Mistake #2: Not Having Your Documents

Save yourself time by having all the documents you need before you sit down to fill out the FAFSA. Gather your:

  • School code
  • Social Security card
  • Driver’s license
  • Federal tax information from last year
  • Records of untaxed income
  • Information on other assets, including investments, savings and business assets

Mistake #3: Not Reading The FAFSA Carefully

The FAFSA is an official government form. You must enter your information as it appears on your official government documents, such as your Social Security card or your birth certificate.

Simple mistakes can lead to lengthy delays in receiving your financial aid. Try not to rush through the questions on the FAFSA form, including:

  • Your Household Size: The FAFSA has guidelines on how to define your household size or your parents’ household size.
  • Your Income Tax Amount: This refers to the amount of money you paid on your income earned from your current employment, not how much you earned.
  • Your Legal Guardianship: The definition of legal guardianship does not include your parents, even if they were appointed by a court to be your guardian.
  • Your Name: You must enter your name as it appears on official documents. No abbreviations or nicknames.
  • Your Social Security Number (SSN): The entered SSN is cross-checked with the Social Security Administration. To avoid financial aid delays, check that you entered your SSN correctly.


Mistake #4: Not Reporting Your Parents’ Information

Even if you pay your own bills, file your own taxes and support yourself fully, you may still be considered a dependent student for federal student aid purposes. Find out if you need to provide your parent(s) information here

Mistake #5: Not Signing The FAFSA

Just as it’s important to answer every question on the FAFSA, it’s necessary to sign the FAFSA with your PIN when you submit the form. Whether you forgot your PIN or you don’t have a parent present to enter the parent PIN, the FAFSA is left unsubmitted without this verification. 

To verify that your FAFSA has been submitted, you can check your status immediately online. 

Ready to fill out the FAFSA? Follow these instructions

Need assistance? Contact your university’s Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid to help you as well as answer any questions about the FAFSA

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