A mistake on your FAFSA application can slow down your financial aid application and could reduce the funding you receive which is why OneClass CEO, Jack Tai, wants you to have these 8 FAFSA Tips to Help You Get Financial Aid.
Find out how to avoid FAFSA errors
For most students, the path to college begins with a FAFSA application.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, FAFSA for short, is the first step to accessing many types of college financial aid.
The FAFSA will determine your eligibility for federal student aid, such as loans, grants, scholarships, and work-study. Additionally, FAFSA results are used by many colleges and state agencies to decide additional financial aid opportunities, such as grants issued by your state and scholarships administered by your college.
In total, about 12 million students submit FAFSA applications each year. However, some common mistakes can cause unnecessary delays in determining your funding eligibility.
OneClass is committed to helping students succeed in college. To help your FAFSA application process go smoothly, here are eight tips to help you apply.
- Apply Early
Many types of financial aid are available for the duration of the FAFSA application cycle. However, some types of aid are first come, first served. Each year, the U.S. Department of Education releases the FAFSA application on October 1.
Applying early can help you qualify for the maximum amount of funding.
- Don’t Miss the Deadline
Preparing for college is a busy time, and financial aid can add another level of complexity, especially since each college sets its own financial aid deadlines.
Check the financial aid deadline through the college’s website, or to research a few schools, visit the Student Aid Deadline directory on the FAFSA site to research financial aid deadlines from colleges across the country.
- Getting an FSA ID Takes Time
About 99 percent of students complete their FAFSA online, and like all other online accounts, you’ll need a username and password. However, instead of your account information being issued on demand, your login credentials can take up to three days to be issued.
This will add some time to your application process, so plan accordingly. Keep in mind that if the student is a dependent, a parent or guardian will need to request his or her own FSA ID.
- Use the Official Application
Many third-party websites can help you with your FAFSA application.
Unfortunately, some sites are spoofing the FAFSA to collect your information. To avoid spammers and unnecessary middlemen, be sure to apply through the official site: fafsa.gov. By seeing the “.gov” in the URL, you’ll know that the site is managed by the government, so your application will be free and secure.
- Small Discrepancies Can Be a Big Deal
Even small differences such as a middle initial versus a middle name can cause delays in your FAFSA application. When completing your application, pay careful attention to the details to make sure you’re entering exactly the same information you entered when you requested an FSA ID.
- Understand the Language
Similar to a tax form, the FAFSA uses financial language that’s very specific.
This can make the form difficult to decipher, especially if it’s your first year applying for aid. Refer to the term definitions for anything that’s unclear, so you’re able to provide the correct answers.
- Import Your Financials Directly
The FAFSA application allows you to link your IRS data, so many financial fields are automatically populated. Using this IRS data retrieval tool can save time, and it can help you to report accurate financial information and avoid potential problems.
- Don’t Forget Your Signature
Forgetting to sign the FAFSA is actually the most common mistake, and any application that’s submitted without a signature is considered incomplete.
After all the hard work you put into the application, don’t forget the final and most crucial thing.
Why It’s Important to Avoid FAFSA Delays
About a third of FAFSA applications are selected for verification, a process that can take weeks or months.
Any inconsistencies or inaccuracies in your application can trigger this audit-like process, which can slow down your college applications and cause you to miss out on financial aid. This is why you need to pay careful attention to these 8 FAFSA Tips to Help You Get Financial Aid tips.
In particular, 13 states present financial aid awards on a first come, first served basis. These are Alaska, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, and Washington.
For all students, addressing financial aid applications early can help you have the information you need to compare the true cost of attendance for the schools where you’re accepted.
Jack Tai is the CEO of OneClass. Find out how OneClass has helped 2.2 million students succeed in college. He helps students get what they need to succeed in college and loves to provide articles such as 8 FAFSA Tips to Help You Get Financial Aid,