Report any changes to income or marital status
If your financial situation has changed significantly since filing your tax return (think job loss, divorce or marriage), it’s possible to have your financial aid adjusted. Complete the form and submit it as you normally would, then contact the school you plan to attend and explain how your financial situation has changed.
It’s important to update as necessary because a change in marital or financial status could mean a change in your aid award.
If you need to make a correction, simply log in to the FAFSA homepage, go to your online form and then choose “Make Corrections.” You can correct any field except for your Social Security number.
If you wish to add a school after your FAFSA form has been processed, you can log in and, on the My FAFSA page, select Add/Change Schools and then follow the instructions to submit your revisions.
Take advantage of technology
The IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) automatically transfers your tax details into the FAFSA form. It’s a good idea to use this option if it’s offered, since it saves time, eliminates mistakes and potentially reduces the amount of paperwork you may need to submit to your school later.
You shouldn’t need to change any of the answers since they’ll come directly from your tax return. It can also help you sidestep simple mistakes in providing your income tax information. You’ll need to provide your assessed income tax liability, for example, which is different from the amount of income tax withheld or your adjusted gross income. Using the IRS DRT lets you bypass this common error.
As always, however, you’ll need to double-check everything, even the automated replies, to ensure you’ve responded to every question.
Pay attention to college order
You’ll need to list at least one college when you complete the FAFSA application, and you can add up to 10 colleges when applying online (unless you know for sure which school you’re attending).
The schools you’re considering attending will need the FAFSA form to determine whether you’re eligible for federal student aid and, if so, how much. Colleges can’t see the other schools you are applying to.
So, list your desired schools in the right order. Some states may require you to list at least one eligible in-state school if you are applying for state aid. For example, in Massachusetts, Michigan, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, state grant awards are made to the first in-state college listed on your FAFSA application.
Other states, like South Carolina and Vermont, specifically request you put the schools you’re most likely to attend at the top of your list. Include all schools you are interested in, whether or not you have applied yet.
However, each state may have different criteria or guidelines that need to be followed to be considered for their state grant programs. As such, if you are interested in applying for state grants that are available in your state, it is important to check with your state grant issuing agency.
Sign on the dotted line
One very common mistake, after painstakingly completing every section of the FAFSA form, is neglecting to sign your form with your FSA ID and submitting it!
Once you see the confirmation, you’ll know the form has been successfully submitted. Whew! Don’t forget to check your email (and spam folder) for any messages concerning your financial aid.
Just to be safe, you may want to print a copy of the online confirmation since it provides some details not shown in the email confirmation.
Filling out the FAFSA form may not be rewarding in the moment, but the potential savings on your college education absolutely are.