FAFSA CHEAT SHEET
The FAFSA can seem like a daunting document, but with the right tips and hints, it will seem like a breeze. The main thing to remember is have all your forms and papers on hand, if available, to make the process go the fastest possible. The sooner you complete the form, the better chance you have of receiving more financial aid, so don’t miss out on these tips!
- Use fafsa.ed.gov, not any other website! This is the official website where it is free to file your FAFSA. Do not pay for the “FREE Application for Federal Student Aid.”
- You don’t need to wait until you file your taxes! You can use estimated income and go back to correct it later.
- If you have completed your taxes at least a couple weeks before filling out the FAFSA, use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to autofill information.
- Make sure you are completing the correct application – it should be for the year your student will be attending college in the fall (class of 2019 should complete 2019-2020 application).
- You must create a FSA ID online to electronically sign in online to your FAFSA application. Use fsaid.ed.gov to create an account.
- Use NEXT and PREVIOUS buttons. Don’t use back or forward arrows or it will log you out and you’ll lose data
- Make sure when you are answering questions you know WHAT SECTION YOU ARE IN! (student information or parent information).
- Enter ‘0’ for financial information if applicable – DON’T LEAVE IT BLANK.
- Selective Service: All male students (18-25) MUST be registered. If not, NO AID. If you have not registered, just check ‘yes, register me’ on the FAFSA. Done.
- High School Diploma: Indicate that will receive one by the end of school year.
- Work Study: Answer “yes”! Does not obligate you to accept work-study position, but if you check “no” may not be available if you change your mind.
- Household size: Count anyone who receives more than 50% of their support from a dependent student’s parents.
- Parents’ Financial Information: Only include information from parent, stepparent, or adoptive parents. If parents are divorced include income from parent you live with majority of the time or provides the majority of support.
- Name does not match your Social Security Card exactly.
- Putting the same amount for AGI as Income Tax.
- On tax form the AGI is on 1st page of the 1040 at bottom line (line 37) and Income tax paid is 2nd page of 1040 toward middle of page under “other tax”. It will say in teeny print “total tax”. Yes, it can sometimes be a “0.”
- Not following up with correct tax info.
- If you estimate, make sure to correct anything, and use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to make things easier.
- Not using the link to the State Aid website.
- Saves a lot of time because it will pull already entered information.
- Including a farm as assets when your farm is also your home.
- Leaving spaces blank that should have a “0” instead
- Forgetting to sign FAFSA with your FSA ID.