Tackling Common Errors on the FAFSA
The FAFSA is vital for all students to fill out, but what happens if you make a mistake? Here’s how to fix common FAFSA mistakes.
July 18, 2022
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form is the most important form for students to fill out. The FAFSA determines eligibility for all types of federal financial aid, including grants, work-study and federal student loans, as well as some state- and college-based aid.
The FAFSA must be submitted each academic year, typically by the end of June. But what happens if you make a mistake on your FAFSA — or if something changes with your situation after you submit it?
There’s no need to panic. Here’s what you need to know about FAFSA mistakes and how to address them.
What happens if I submit my FAFSA with an error?
The questions on the FAFSA form ask for your information as of the day you submit the form. However, sometimes students might make a mistake on the form.
If you make a mistake on your FAFSA, you may not receive the financial aid that you are eligible for. It’s important to double-check your form before you submit it.
If you submit a form with an error on it, one of two scenarios is likely to happen:
You'll receive an error message indicating that there was a mistake and the FAFSA cannot be processed. See this page for an overview of common FAFSA error messages.
You notice the mistake yourself and need to make a correction.
Fortunately, if you do make a mistake, there are ways to correct it. In either case, you will need to make corrections to your FAFSA by September 10, 2022.
Common FAFSA errors
We all make mistakes. Here are some of the most common FAFSA mistakes that students make — and what to do about them.
Missing the FAFSA deadline
The FAFSA is due each year by June 30. In addition, some schools and many states have their own requirements, which may be earlier than this date. If you miss the deadline, you may be out of luck — but it’s worth contacting your school anyway. Your school’s financial aid office will be able to tell you if you have any options to still apply for aid.
Not filling out the FAFSA at all
Simply not filling out the FAFSA is a big mistake that some students make, often because they think they won’t be eligible for aid — or they believe it’s too difficult. But the FAFSA is how you qualify for federal student loans, Federal Work-Study, grants and scholarships, which you typically don’t need to pay back. If you don’t fill out the FAFSA, you will not be eligible for federal student financial aid. Fortunately, submitting the FAFSA isn’t too difficult, and step-by-step details are available on the Federal Student Aid website.
Incorrect Social Security number
If you put the wrong Social Security number (SSN) — yours or your parents' — on your FAFSA, it will not be processed correctly. The best way to remedy this common mistake is to simply submit a new FAFSA altogether. If you are past the deadline, you may not be eligible for federal student aid in this academic year. You can contact your school’s financial aid office to see what options are available to you.
Incorrect personal information
Incorrect personal information — such as a misspelling or checking the wrong box — can usually be remedied by submitting an update to your FAFSA. To do this, you’ll need to sign in to studentaid.gov with your Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID to update your form.
Incorrect parent or guardian information
Information about your parents or guardians is used to calculate your federal student financial aid award eligibility. It’s used to determine your dependency status, which influences how much aid you may be eligible for. Mistakes relating to this information can also be corrected by updating your FAFSA online.
Incorrect or missing school information
When you file the FAFSA, you are encouraged to include on the form all the schools that you may be interested in attending. You will need to know the school’s Federal School Code, which you can look up on the Federal Student Aid website. To add or change schools, you can log in using your FSA ID, select “Add/Change Schools” on the My FAFSA page, and update the relevant information.
Not reporting all required information
Some students may submit the FAFSA without all the required information included. This may be the case when it comes to financial and tax information for the student and/or the parent. The FAFSA needs to be completed in its entirety — if submitted with missing information, it won’t be fully processed. You can submit an update using your FSA ID online.
How to correct FAFSA errors
The majority of FAFSA errors can be corrected in a few different ways.
One option is by submitting an update online. Here’s how:
Log into your account at studentaid.gov using your FSA ID.
On the “My FAFSA” page, select “Make Corrections to My FAFSA Form.”
Create a save key.
Make your corrections.
Submit the new information.
The deadline to make changes to the FAFSA is September 10, 2022.
You can also make changes in one of two other ways:
Write the corrections on your paper Student Aid Report (SAR) form, and mail it to the provided address on the SAR.
Check with your school’s financial aid office to see if they can help you make changes.
Again, in most cases, it’s simplest to submit an update online.
What is the FAFSA corrections deadline?
The deadline to submit corrections is September 10.
What happens if you miss this deadline? In this case, you can’t make corrections for this academic year. Whatever amount of aid you were awarded is what you will be able to accept.
It’s still worth calling your school’s financial aid office to explore your options, however. In some cases, the school may be able to work with you to find a solution.
You can also apply for scholarships and grants from other sources. You can use an online search tool like Scholarships.com to find opportunities that you may qualify for.
And if you need student loans because you didn't qualify for federal student loans or you need additional money for educational expenses, one alternative is to use private student loans.
Making an error when filling out the FAFSA form can be stressful, but fortunately, most mistakes are easy enough to fix. It’s an easy process to submit an update online using your FSA ID.
Just remember to submit updates before the September 10 corrections deadline.
While a student's creditworthiness is not a factor for eligibility for most federal student loans, it is for a few, notably Direct PLUS loans that are available to eligible graduate or professional students or parents of dependent undergraduate students. If you've had some negative entries on your credit report, you may have to meet additional requirements to be approved for this type of loan.
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