Applying for college financial aid often seems like a daunting process with too many forms to fill out and too many deadlines to meet. Your first and most important task when you are in need of money for college is to submit an application for student financial aid. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is always a must but the CSS PROFILE is equally important at schools that require it.
When submitting these forms, you'll use your previous year's taxes, and technology has come a long way to help users fill out the forms accurately and quickly. But, it is so important that all the information on these forms is up-to-date and correct because errors can delay and even prevent you from getting money you need to pay for school.
That's why, after you submit the FAFSA, you need to look over your Student Aid Report (SAR) very carefully. Take out that fine-tooth comb, because you won't want to miss a thing.
What happens if you find an error? First of all, don't panic. Most mistakes can be easily fixed by going online and inputting the correct information. Here are some of the more common mistakes made when submitting the FAFSA and how to handle them.
Common FAFSA errors
- Incorrect name spelling
- Wrong income information
- Social Security Number errors
- Transposition/typo errors
- Missing schools
Social Security Numbers
Making a mistake when entering your student SSN can prevent you from receiving any financial aid because this number is how your school finds your grant and student loan information. An error entering your SSN is the one thing that cannot be fixed on-line. If your SAR shows the wrong SSN, you can do one of two things:
1) contact the financial aid office at any of the schools you submitted a FAFSA to immediately to see if they can correct the issue or
2) you can make a correction on a paper SAR.
Otherwise, you will need to submit a new FAFSA (and who wants to do that?). If the error is in your parent's SSN, you don't need to submit a new student aid application. Their SSN and other information is easily updated on the website.
Financial information is where transpositions and other number errors can cause you problems. You may well be shocked if your income is $27,000 and the SAR shows it to be $72,000 or $270,000. This can happen if you get your numbers turned around or tried to enter a number as dollars and cents. You may not realize the FAFSA student financial aid website can't detect periods in numbers.
Instead of $27,114.29, the system sees your family income as $2,711,429. It might look bad but this is easily corrected on-line by changing the numbers to reflect your true income.
Better yet, use the IRS Data Retrieval tool when completing your FAFSA. Information will be pulled directly from the IRS into your application, so typos can't occur on this imported income information.
How to correct/update your FAFSA
Next, enter FSA ID to access your account. Follow the instructions from there.
If you need some help with correcting your FAFSA, make an appointment with the RISLA College Planning Center. All appointments are free.