Avoid FAFSA Mistakes

Applying for financial aid? Save yourself time and money by avoiding these mistakes.


Don’t wait! The FAFSA deadline for many schools is approaching. Don’t miss out on valuable funding for your education and submit your application on time. It is available on January 1st each year, and while there is no deadline for the federal government, each school has it’s own requirements, so be sure to check with your financial aid office.

Paying for it

FAFSA stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, one of the key words being “free”. Don’t pay to submit your FAFSA, ever! Use the official FAFSA website to fill our your application, not a secondary service that helps you with the process. The website provided by the federal government is more user-friendly than it used to be and there are plenty of helpful tools located on the same site if you get stuck. 

Including Retirement Assets

Retirement assets are expected to be used for retirement, not for education, and the FAFSA recognizes this. Still, some parents closer to retirement age include these assets, even when they don’t have to. Doing so can change your award.

Incorrect tax figures

When filling out your FAFSA, use the amount of federal income tax you paid, not the amount reported on your W-2. Using the figures from your W-2 will inflate your earnings and could affect your award amount.

Not appealing your award

Not enough money to make your education dreams come true? It’s okay to appeal your award. Be prepared to provide your school with more information along with your appeal. The appeal process will take a deeper look at your finances and allow you to clear up any information that may have led to the size of your award. Not every appeal will be successful, but it is always worth it to ask for a second look. Be your own strongest advocate, especially when it comes to your education.

For more tips and common FAFSA mistakes, visit 20s Finances.

Have you filled out your FAFSA yet?

Kylie K.