Do Not Leave Money On The Table, Common FAFSA Mistakes To Avoid

Do Not Leave Money On The Table, Common FAFSA Mistakes To Avoid

by Chuck Bates, CCFC on Sep 22, 2021

Education, College, College Admissions, Financial Aid

There are numerous students that miss out on the benefits of completing the FAFSA each year. Sure, it’s time-consuming and confusing, maybe even scary. Being part of a divorced family can present even more challenges. But ultimately it pays to complete the FAFSA.

These are the most common reasons why students do not complete the FAFSA:

  • I won’t qualify for aid
  • I don’t have need
  • I don’t want debt
  • I don’t know how
  • It is too much work

In the 2015-2016 school year, more than two million students would have been eligible for the Federal Pell Grant. Over 1.2 million would have qualified for the maximum amount. The filing percentage for FAFSA has been on the rise in recent years. However, that growth is coming from middle to high-income families, not the families most likely to need or receive the Pell Grant.

That means up to $2 billion in Federal and State money left on the table annually.

Now let’s get to the common mistakes to avoid when completing the FAFSA.

  • Not completing it.  This is the single biggest mistake you can make.
    • See the $2 billion left on the table last year
  • Not completing it every Year
    • Your financial situation can change, rapidly
  • Waiting too long
    • Dollars are limited. They are usually given on a first-come, first-served basis
  • Not knowing the deadlines
    • FAFSA opens October 1, remember sooner is better
  • Paying someone to complete it for you
  • Making mistakes on the form
    • Understand the definitions, make sure to classify assets and income correctly
  • Not utilizing the Data Retrieval Tool
    • If you are eligible, this process pulls figures from your 1040
  • Not making sure you send it to all the schools you or your student applies to
    • The form allows for 10, but you can send it to more than 10 schools
  • Not making sure everyone signs it
    • Both parents and dependent students need to sign

Last, make sure you know the three important FAFSA related deadlines. The School, The State, & The Federal. 



For questions completing the FAFSA, connect with Chuck Bates, CCFC here.