11 Common FAFSA Mistakes

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12 Common FAFSA Mistakes

11 Common FAFSA Mistakes

The 2016–17 FAFSA® is now available! The online FAFSA has gotten a lot easier over the last few years. Thanks to improvements like skip logic, where you only see questions that are applicable to you; and the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, which allows you to import your tax information from the IRS directly into the FAFSA application, the FAFSA takes less than 30 minutes to complete. Just make sure to take your time so you don’t make one of these mistakes:

1. Not Completing the FAFSA®

I hear all kinds of reasons: “The FAFSA is too hard,” “It takes too long to complete,” I never qualify anyway, so why does it matter?” It does matter. By not completing the FAFSA, you are missing the opportunity to qualify for what could be thousands of dollars to help you pay for college. The FAFSA takes little time to complete, and there is help provided throughout the application. Oh, and contrary to popular belief, there is no income cut-off when it comes to federal student aid.

2. Not Using the Correct Website

The official FAFSA website is fafsa.gov. That’s .gov! You never have to pay to complete the FAFSA. If you’re asked for credit card information, you’re not on the official government site.

3. Not Getting an FSA ID Ahead of Time

We’ve made a big change to the FAFSA process this year in order to increase security. Students and parents can no longer use a Federal Student Aid PIN to log in and sign the FAFSA online. You must, instead, use the new FSA IDa username and password. Once you register for an FSA ID, you may need to wait up to three days before you can use it to sign your FAFSA. If you don’t want your FAFSA to be delayed, register for an FSA ID now. If you’re a dependent student, your parent will need to create an FSA ID too.

The key to making the FAFSA simple is being prepared. The process will go much smoother if you register for an FSA ID and gather everything you need to complete the FAFSA before you start the application.

4. Waiting to Fill Out The FAFSA Until After You File Taxes

Because some financial aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, it’s important to fill out the FAFSA early. However, the 2016–17 FAFSA is available beginning January 1, 2016, well before most people have their 2015 taxes filed. This, however, shouldn’t stop you from getting the FAFSA submitted. If your income from 2014 is similar to your income from 2015, you can use your 2014 taxes to estimate the financial information on the FAFSA and get it submitted now. You can then update the FAFSA after you file 2015 taxes, preferably using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.

5. Not Filing by the Deadline

States, schools, and the federal government each have their own FAFSA deadlines. To maximize the amount of your financial aid, you should fill out your FAFSA (and any other financial aid applications that may be required by your state or school), by the earliest of these three deadlines, if not sooner!

6. Not Reading Definitions Carefully

When it comes to completing the FAFSA, you want to read each definition and question carefully. Too many students see delays in their financial aid for simple mistakes that could have been easily avoided.

Don’t rush through these questions:

  • Your Number of Family Members (Household size): The FAFSA has a specific definition of how your or your parents’ household size should be determined. Read the instructions carefully. Many students incorrectly report this number.
  • Legal Guardianship: One question on the FAFSA asks: “As determined by a court in your state of legal residence, are you or were you in legal guardianship?” Many students incorrectly answer “yes” here. For this question, the definition of legal guardianship does not include your parents, even if they were appointed by a court to be your guardian. You are also not considered a legal guardian of yourself.

7. Inputting Incorrect Information

Here are some examples of common errors we see on the FAFSA:

  • Confusing Parent and Student Information: I know there are many parents out there who fill out the FAFSA for their child, but remember, the FAFSA is the student’s application. When the FAFSA says “you” or “your”, it’s referring to the student, so make sure to enter the student’s information. If we are asking for parent information, we will specify that in the question.
  • Entering the Wrong Name (Yes, I’m serious): You wouldn’t believe how many people have issues with their FAFSA because they entered an incorrect name on the application. It doesn’t matter if you’re Madonna, or Drake, or whatever Snoop Lion is calling himself these days. You must enter your full name as it appears on official government documents. No nicknames.
  • Entering the Wrong Social Security Number (SSN): When we process FAFSAs, we cross check your social security number with the Social Security Administration. To avoid delays in processing your application, triple check that you have entered the correct SSN. If you meet our basic eligibility criteria, but you or your parents don’t have a SSN, follow these instructions.
  • Amount of Your Income Tax: Income tax is not the same as income. It is the amount of tax that you (and if married, your spouse) paid on your income earned from work. Your income tax amount should not be the same as your adjusted gross income (AGI). Where you find the amount of your income tax depends on which IRS form you filed.

Tip: If you use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, this number will be pulled for you, directly from your income tax return.

8. Not Reporting Parent Information

Even if you fully support yourself, pay your own bills, and file your own taxes, you may still be considered a dependent student for federal student aid purposes, and therefore, you’ll need to provide parent information on your FAFSA. Dependency guidelines for the FAFSA are determined by Congress and are different from those of the IRS. Find out whether or not you need to provide parent information by answering these questions.

Bonus: Who is my parent when I fill out the FAFSA?

Who's My Parent When I Fill Out My FAFSA? Graphic

Click to enlarge

9. Listing only one college

Two-thirds of freshmen FAFSA applicants list only one college on their applications. Do not make this mistake! Colleges can’t see the other schools you’ve added, so you should add ANY college you are considering to your FAFSA, even if you aren’t sure whether you’ll apply or be accepted. It doesn’t hurt your application to add more schools. If you’re applying to more than 10 schools, follow these steps.

10. Not Using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool

For many, the most difficult part about filling out the FAFSA is entering in the financial information. But now, thanks to a partnership with the IRS, students and parents who are eligible can automatically transfer the necessary tax info into the FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. This year, the tool will launch on February 7, 2016. In most cases, your information will be available from the IRS two weeks after you file. It’s also one of the best ways to prevent errors on your FAFSA and avoid any processing delays.

Tip: If you used income estimates to file your FAFSA early, you can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to update your FAFSA shortly after after you file your 2015 taxes.

11. Not Signing the FAFSA

So many students answer every single question that is asked, but fail to actually sign the FAFSA with their FSA ID and submit it. This happens for many reasons, maybe they forgot their FSA ID, or their parent isn’t with them to sign with the parent FSA ID, so the FAFSA is left incomplete. Don’t let this happen to you. If you don’t have or don’t know your FSA ID, register for one. If you would like confirmation that your FAFSA has been submitted, you can check your status immediately after you submit your FAFSA online.

Nicole Callahan is a Digital Engagement Strategist at Federal Student Aid.

464 Comments

  1. The FAFSA said I’m not qualified because I already have a Bachelor’s Degree, but I got my degree outside the USA and my transcript of records was not even credited to the school that I am enrolled in. 🙁

  2. Is it better to go ahead and use 2014 tax info and update later or wait on 2015 tax info? Income will probably be 1/2 due to business loss (farming) and wont get taxes finished till middle of February. We are in Indiana.

    • Yes, filing early is better. States, schools, and the federal government each have their own deadlines: https://fafsa.ed.gov/deadlines.htm. Plus, many states, schools, and private scholarships require you to submit the FAFSA before they will consider you for any financial aid they offer. If your 2015 income was very different from your 2014 income, use the income estimator (available from within the FAFSA) to estimate financial information instead of 2014 taxes: https://fafsa.ed.gov/fotw1617/help/fotwfaq68.htm, that way you can still submit your FAFSA early and your income estimates will be accurate.

      • Thank you! If we input estimated income which will need to be corrected once our 2015 taxes are complete, would we wait to delete some colleges and add new? Or should we still do it now, then reeat the process once our taxes are complete and we make updates?

        • You should sign and submit the FAFSA with all the added schools (+5) NOW using estimated information. The earlier they get it, the earlier they can calculate your daughter’s award package. Later, when you update taxes, you can re-submit the FAFSA with new data. Any school on the first transaction (10) or the subsequent transactions (5) will have access to your tax information. Also, keep in mind that every school has a different deadline for completing the FAFSA. Make sure you check those deadlines too, this is why we encourage people to use estimated information so they won’t file too late. Check your state deadline here.

        • Please refer to the scenario below for more guidance.
          Q: If I include more than 10 schools on my FAFSA and make corrections, how do all of the schools receive my updated information?

          Let’s say your FAFSA has been processed and you login to make a correction. You delete 3 schools from your FAFSA in order to add 3 more schools. In total, you want to send your FAFSA info to 13 schools. You click submit and get an updated SAR.

          You need to repeat this process every time you make a correction. Delete 3, then add 3, click submit, and receive an updated SAR, in order to ensure that all 13 schools get your updated info. You can also call and double-check with the schools to make sure they received your updated FAFSA after it’s been processed.

  3. As a parent, I am considering going back to college. My son is a college sophomore. Will it hurt my son’s Fafsa if I say I am also enrolled or does it help?

    • The number of people in the household enrolled in college is considered while calculating financial aid. However, there are many other factors we consider too. Your eligibility depends on your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), your year in school, your enrollment status, and the cost of attendance at the school you will be attending. The financial aid office at the college will determine how much financial aid you (and your son) are eligible to receive.

  4. My daughter submitted her FAFSA, but realized that she misspelled her name. Put a “c” instead of an “s” in her first name. How do we correct this after it has already been submitted?

    Also, a parent that I know forgot he

  5. due to my unemployment my children and I moved in with my ex husband two years ago. (we are legally divorced).We are moving out august 2016. I am the custodial parent and my ex does not contribute to my children’s education. (catholic high school). My daughter will be a freshmen September 2016.

    My ex and I share ownership of the house we all live in and we share expenses. However he makes about $100,000. per year, and I make about $12,000. per year, plus $800 per month child support.
    If I add his income and state we live together, my daughter will not receive much financial aid. Is there anything we can do??

  6. My son had a co op last spring and has around $20,000 in his savings account. I know from filling out his 3 previous fafsa’s that they ask for the student’s bank account info. Will his savings hurt him getting financial aid even though it is based on mine and my husband’s income? Didn’t know if it would be better to take that money out of his account or not.

  7. If I remove my first 10 schools and add 4 new schools after receiving a new SAR for each time I did it, meaning I will have two different SARs in the end, does the IRS Data Retrieval Tool import my tax information from the IRS directly into the FAFSA application for all the schools I applied to?

    • Yes. Any school on the first transaction (10) or the subsequent transactions (4) will have access to the your tax information. The IRS DRT transfers the tax information in real time and that information is accessible to all the schools that you select.

    • Please refer to the scenario below for more guidance.
      Q: If I include more than 10 schools on my FAFSA and make corrections, how do all of the schools receive my updated information?

      Let’s say your FAFSA has been processed and you login to make a correction. You delete 3 schools from your FAFSA in order to add 3 more schools. In total, you want to send your FAFSA info to 13 schools. You click submit and get an updated SAR.

      You need to repeat this process every time you make a correction. Delete 3, then add 3, click submit, and receive an updated SAR, in order to ensure that all 13 schools get your updated info. You can also call and double-check with the schools to make sure they received your updated FAFSA after it’s been processed.

  8. We are one one year from starting the oddyssey of the FAFSA. My step daughter lives during the week with her mother, but with us on the weekends with her father and I. Her mother refuses to put her income info on the FAFSA or give it to her daughter so she can fill out the form.. She makes much less then us and we’d like to get our daughter the most benefit. What should we do?

  9. I’d like to go back to school but I’m afraid now that I’m married our income will look as though we are so well off and don’t need it. On paper we look awesome but after everything comes out its a tight living at times. We have 3 children a piece. One is on her own in Atlanta. She’s 25. One lives with her mother but we have her a good bit with visitation. The other 4 live here and we support them. I only work part time. If it was just based on my income I know I’d receive much but it’s my husbands income that seems to put us over the top. So would I use both incomes and would I put down that we have 6 children? 5? Or just the 4 that live with us.

    • If you are legally married, you must report your spouse’s financial information on your FAFSA. To determine your household size, include:

      1. yourself (and your spouse);
      2. the number of children who will receive more than half of their support from you (and your spouse) when you are attending college; and
      3. the number of people (not your children or spouse) who live with you and receive more than half of their support from you, and will continue to receive more than half of their support from you during the school year.

  10. With two daughters in college we expected more support for the 2015-16 school year but we were just given a larger amount for parent contribution. Shouldn’t there be additional support available with more than one child full time in college?

    • The number of people in your household that are enrolled in college is considered. However, there are many other factors that go into determining the types and amount of aid your children get: http://studentaid.ed.gov/fafsa/next-steps/how-calculated. Your children’s eligibility depends on your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), their year in school, enrollment status, and the cost of attendance at the school they will be attending. The financial aid office at their college will determine how much financial aid they are eligible to receive.

    • trust me Lisa, regardless of what is said here, if you both have jobs and make decent money and have saved money, you are on your own unless you take out a loan. The system (as most govt systems do) rewards those who don’t save and those who choose not work.

  11. Is there an amount income wise per household that gets money? We are a two income house, two kids in college and have never gotten a thing.

    • It doesn’t matter if you have a low or high income, you will still qualify for some types of aid. Your children were never offered unsubsidized loans? Most people are offered unsub loans regardless of their EFC. If you mean your children were never offered the Federal Pell Grant, here’s how that’s calculated: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/types/grants-scholarships/pell#how-much-money

      There is an income threshold for an automatic zero EFC. For the 2016-17 award year, it’s $25,000 or less for the parents of dependent students and for independent students and their spouses. Here is the entire EFC formula: http://ifap.ed.gov/efcformulaguide/attachments/100615EFCFormulaGuide1617Attach.pdf Keep in mind that having a zero EFC does not guarantee more or less aid than someone else. There are many factors that go into aid calculation: EFC, year in school, enrollment status, and the cost of attendance at the school. The financial aid office at the college will determine how much financial aid your children are eligible to receive.

  12. I am disabled. Right now I receive benefits for me and my son. He will be losing his when he graduates high school in May. Do I report his on the application or only mine? Thanks in advance.

  13. My daughter got accepted to Cal State Eastbay, when do I fill for her FAFSA? I have not done my 2015 taxes yet, can I use my last paycheck?

    • The FAFSA is an annual application. The 2016-17 FAFSA covers the academic year July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017. Your daughter must complete it each school year. You can complete the FAFSA now even if you haven’t filed 2015 taxes yet. Just select “will file” and use 2014 tax info to estimate the financial information. Make sure you sign and submit with both your and your daughter’s FSA ID. Then, once you file 2015 taxes, log back in and update the FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. Detailed instructions: https://fafsa.ed.gov/fotw1617/help/fotwfaq68.htm

  14. My oldest child is graduating this year and we are in the process of filling out the FAFSA. Is there any place to take into consideration the fact that we have a child with special needs who will need life long care – even after we (the parents) have passed away? We have financial assets that we intend to help with her care but I assume we have to report all?

  15. I was told all schools CAN see the list of schools you put on there and for this reason you should put a small number of schools on the FAFSA so they know they are competing with others. Are you sure they cannot see the list?

    • This is not true. A while ago we became aware of possible misuse of the list of Federal School Codes provided on a student’s FAFSA. In response, we have implemented a change on the new 2016-17 FAFSA. Schools will only see themselves listed, not other schools the student has reported. If you’d like to see more details, it’s on Page 3 of the 2016-17 “Summary of Changes for the Application Processing System” here: http://ifap.ed.gov/ifap/byAwardYear.jsp?type=sumchngsappsys

  16. I will have one child in graduate school (5th year) and one starting college (1st year) in the fall 2016. Would it be correct to have selected two children in college at the same time?

  17. When is the best time to fill out this form if the students graduation date from high school is May 2018? Also, we have legal guardianship of our grandson. He has very little if any contact with his mother,( if she can be located) who has had a sketchy past and the chance of her having, or us getting any tax information is not possible. No father is listed on his birth certificate and we have know idea who his father is. How on earth do we fill out the parent part of this form?

  18. My son is a senior this year and his father claims him on his taxes this year due to support agreement. Should he be the one to fill out the fafsa forms?

  19. Do we need to include the stepparent if both biological parents support the student? One has full custody in the US, the other lives outside the country and doesn’t pay US taxes. Thank you!

    • Don’t think that matters, only matters based on who child lived with most. Report that parents income and if they have remarried, the step later T income too. The picture above gives a clear explanation.

  20. My niece and her mom lives with me and her moms on disability and doesn’t file taxes… How is this handled

  21. If the parent has a separate FSA ID and completes the financial information separate from the student, is that financial information kept private from the student or is all information included on the application available to the student.

    • The information is not private because the student is the official owner of their FAFSA, not the parent. If you are the parent of a dependent student, you use your FSA ID to electronically sign your child’s FAFSA. Your FSA ID can also be used if you want to complete a FAFSA as an adult student if you wish to go back to school in the future.

      • I have a senior in college and a senior in HS. When I applied FAFSA for my HS child (using the same user when I applied for my college child), it kept pointing me to my college child’s file. I ended up have to create a new user login and password to apply for my HS child, with a whole different email.

  22. I am getting married in May of 2016. One of the Finacial aid counselors at my school told me that if we waited to sign our fasfa’s until after we got married my future hubby would be considered independent and may qualify for the Pell. I am already an independent student and receive full pell grant. We will both be seniors in college. Is this true?

    • No. Being an independent student does not guarantee more or less aid. There are many factors that go into determining the types and amount of aid you get: http://studentaid.ed.gov/fafsa/next-steps/how-calculated. Your eligibility depends on your Expected Family Contribution, your year in school, your enrollment status, and the cost of attendance at the school you will be attending. The financial aid office at your college will determine how much financial aid you are eligible to receive.

      If you wait until May to complete your FAFSA, you could be missing out on some aid. Check your deadlines now (there are 3 of them): https://fafsa.ed.gov/deadlines.htm Plus, many states, schools, and private scholarships require you to submit the FAFSA before they will consider you for any financial aid they offer.

  23. I have a sophomore in college, & a junior in high school, do I need a separate parent FSA ID for each child?

      • I have a senior in college and a senior in HS. When I applied FAFSA for my HS child (using the same user when I applied for my college child), it kept pointing me to my college child’s file. I ended up have to create a new user login and password to apply for my HS child, with a whole different email.

        (Sorry for multiple posts)

  24. I filed for the FAFSA and was denied based on 2014 taxes. I am currently out of work on private disability , reducing my income drastically, but that won’t reflect on my 2015 tax return for the 2016 year. How do I ammend this?

    • Are you planning to file a new 2016-17 FAFSA for the upcoming academic year (July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017)? The current FAFSA asks for 2015 tax information. If your 2015 income was very different from your 2014 income, use the income estimator (available from within the FAFSA) to estimate financial information instead of 2014 taxes: https://fafsa.ed.gov/fotw1617/help/fotwfaq68.htm, that way you can still submit your FAFSA early and your income estimates will be accurate.

      • I believe the intent of the above question was, “what if 2016 income will be significantly different from what is represented on the 2015 income tax return”?

        Is there a provision in FASFA for indicating 2016 income will be significantly different from past income?

    • What do you mean “denied FAFSA”? I am not aware that you can be denied completing the FAFSA. It simply determines your eligibilty for financial aid. Also, what is this “private disability” you are receiving that would not show up on a tax return? SSI/SSA disabilty and any employer paid disability still should result in a tax return to be filed.

  25. I am a single parent. My 19-year-old daughter is my dependent. For the past 15 months, I have been supporting and caring for my 93-year old mother, who’s endured 3 serious medical situations since October of 2014. Most recently, I’ve had to move her into my home. She still get’s social security and a small vertern”s survivor benefit, and so, files with the IRS, annually. I am spending a LOT of money, monthly to support her. So I have 2 questions: 1) Can I list her as a dependent on the FAFSA app? and 2) How can I report these expenses, so that they are taken into consideration? Thank you!!

    • 1. Are you planning to complete the FAFSA so you can go to college? Not your daughter, correct? If so, then you can include your mother in the question about “household size.” Your household size should include yourself, your spouse (if married) and children and other people (not your children or spouse) who will receive more than half of their support from you (and your spouse) between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017. You will also be considered an independent student on the FAFSA: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa/filling-out/dependency

      However, if your daughter is the one completing the FAFSA, she cannot claim your mother as a dependent. But, there will be a question about her parent’s household size, in which case you can include your mother in that number: https://fafsa.ed.gov/fotw1617/help/fotw06e.htm

      2. The FAFSA asks for balances of savings, checking accounts, and tax info. Debt information is not required. http://studentaid.ed.gov/fafsa/filling-out#financial-info If you have special circumstances, talk to the financial aid office at your school. They may be able to help.

      • This is important as we had “special circumstances” affecting our ability to provide financial aid for my son’s college education that aren’t able to be included in the FAFSA. But our son’s college did provide a way to report these circumstances which they took into consideration when preparing his award.

  26. We will be filling forms for our son’s 3rd year. We filled one out 1st year, paid cash 2nd (this) year. We did not know that you had to fill the form out every year.
    Question 1: Is this going to be an issue?
    Question 2: What do we need to do now?
    Thanks in advance!

  27. I have a freshman at a community college and a junior in high school who is dual enrolled. Do I fill out the FAFSA for the junior also since he is at the college? The people in the financial aid office gave me two different answers. And since the junior is in the college does that change the “number of siblings in college” question? Or would the answer just be 1-for the freshman? Also why does it not count to have a parent who is in college? Tuition is killing us with three people all in college at the same time!

  28. I inherited a property do I have to show that as an asset? It’s paid off but my house I live in isnt

  29. The IRS retrieval tool never works for me. It always says the address does not match the one on my tax return for that year even though I am filling out the address directly printed on my tax return. I always wind up having to fill it all out myself. Is this common?

    • The match process is very sensitive and includes variations in spelling and abbreviations. In order for the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to work successfully, you must enter your address information on the IRS Web site so that it identically matches the address on your tax returns.

      • I have a senior in college and a senior in HS. When I applied FAFSA for my HS child (using the same user when I applied for my college child), it kept pointing me to my college child’s file. I ended up have to create a new user login and password to apply for my HS child, with a whole different email.

  30. My son will be graduating high school in Dec of 2016. If he is to start college in January 2017, do I fill out a fafsa this year? or wait till next year?

    • Yes, your son should complete it this year. The 2016-17 FAFSA covers July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017. Your son must complete it every year he plans to be in school.

  31. My son has moved to his own apartment while attending college, he files his own taxes and is not a dependent on mine. Does he still need mine and his step father’s tax information if he is living independently

    • Yes. Not living with parents or not being claimed by them on tax forms does not make your son an independent student. Our dependency guidelines are different from the IRS. Congress sets dependency guidelines for the FAFSA. Unless he can answer “Yes” to one or more of these questions: https://studentaid.ed.gov/fafsa/filling-out/dependency, he will need to provide parent information on his FAFSA. It doesn’t mean you (the parents) are required to pay anything toward his education; this is just a way of looking at everyone in a consistent manner.

  32. How is it different when you are a mom, who is married, going back to school to keep continuing Ed for my teacher certification?

  33. My son is a sophomore. Am I understanding that I should start his FAFSA in his senior year (Oct. 2017)?

  34. My son (senior graduating 2016) worked and filed income tax. Both his father and I are disabled and receive Social Security Disability and do not have to file taxes. Is the FAFSA set up for situations like that?

  35. My Daughters will be filling this out soon- so I’d like to get a clear answer now. Her Father and I are divorced. I’m remarried, filing taxes as married separate because we will be divorced soon. Stepfather has been adamant about not having his information tied to her financial aid and will refuse to have his information on the form. Who does she report? Can it be solely mine, or should she also report her Father’s income.

    • Are you legally divorced according to the laws of your state? If not, then your daughter must report information from BOTH parents. However, the FAFSA does recognize parents that are legally separated. For FAFSA purposes, the married parents are separated if they are considered legally separated by a state, or if they are legally married but have chosen to live separate lives, including living in separate households, as though they were not married. More details: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa/filling-out/parent-info

  36. How do I correct information on a completed and signed FAFSA? Also, I was remarried the last five months of 2015. I have primary custody and I have my child more than half the days of the year. Do I include my info and his dad’s or my info and his stepdads? (It should NOT be this difficult to get our children signed up) ?

  37. I will have 3 children in college in 2016-2017. My oldest is scheduled to graduate with his first bachelor’s degree in August 2016 and the summer session will begin his 6th year in college. Am I correct to list him as enrolled in college for 2016-2017 and what do I list as his year in school ( in the past the choices went up to 5th year)?

    • The 2016-17 FAFSA covers July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017. Since your oldest child will be enrolled until August 2016, they should complete a 2016-17 FAFSA now to ensure he/she will be covered for the summer semester. If you want to confirm this, we recommend you contact the school’s financial aid office. Each school handles summer semester differently.

  38. My nephew and his daughter live with me and I have claimed her as my dependent for the past 10 years, he is self-employed and earns significantly less than I do. Does she need to report my income on her FAFSA or only her dad’s?

  39. If my daughter does not need financial aid for this semester does she/we still need to fill out FAFSA?

    • It doesn’t hurt to complete a FAFSA because it’s free! You never know what you may get. The FAFSA is an annual application, you don’t need to complete one every semester but you should do it every year. For example, the 2016-17 FAFSA covers July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017. Many factors go into determining the types and amount of aid you get. Every year could be different, so what you get this year may be different than last year: http://studentaid.ed.gov/fafsa/next-steps/how-calculated

  40. my granddaughter lives with me. She has a father and step mother. Do I get a FSA ID or her father?

    • Yes! The FAFSA has a feature that allows the student to transfer their parent’s information into a sibling’s FAFSA. This option will appear on the confirmation page, and the transfer will only work if the sibling has NOT started a new FAFSA yet. When the student gets to the final step, they have the option of transferring information to a brand new FAFSA (your other child’s). Make sure everyone has an FSA ID before you do this! Screenshot: https://www.facebook.com/FederalStudentAid/photos/p.936351556445977/936351556445977/?type=3&theater

      • I have twins and tried to do this and it kept giving us an error message and wouldn’t transfer the information. And, no, we hadn’t started the other application yet either. And just and FYI – once you exit out of the first applicants confirmation page, the option to transfer the parents’ information is gone. Having to put in the exact same information twice is frustrating.

  41. If your income changed drastically from 2014 due layoff and being unemployed, should we wait to input tax information? The proir year taxes will show a lot more income and could hurt the amount of aid that is received. Please advise.

  42. My child receives social security monthly fur to his father passing away. Does that get reported as in income? It will stop when he turns 18

  43. My son will graduate in May with bachelors degree social work but plans to continue education to masters after begins working which he is in child care protection program thru the state so should he go ahead an fill out a fasfa even though he’s not sure yet where or when he will be taking more classes ? Also he may only be able to do part time classes does that affect fasfa ?

    • Yes, he can complete the FAFSA now if he is considering graduate school during the 2016-17 academic year (July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017). He must add at least one school on his FAFSA to receive his information, even if he hasn’t been accepted to that school yet. He can edit his FAFSA later if he wants to include more schools. Being a part-time student will be factored into his aid. His eligibility depends on his Expected Family Contribution, year in school, enrollment status (full or part-time), and the cost of attendance at the school. The financial aid office at his college or career school will determine how much financial aid he is eligible to receive. https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa/next-steps/how-calculated

      • Will it hurt him as far as Sid if he waits till he knows where he’s gonna be taking classes thru an applies later ? I know there’s deadlines for applying , wasn’t sure if you can apply in July or later when he knows how it’s even gonna go for him. ?

  44. I filled out fafsa last year for my son, my daughter will be going to college in the spring. Do I need to fill out separate fafsa for each child or can they be combined?

    • Each individual student needs to complete their own FAFSA. Siblings cannot share a FAFSA. The student is the owner of the FAFSA, not their parent. There is a section for parents to fill out, but parents should NOT be completing the FAFSA on behalf of their child. The FAFSA is an annual application. The 2016-17 FAFSA covers July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017. Your children must complete it each school year. If they completed the FAFSA last year, a lot of your info will roll over. However, it’s important to know that our log in process recently changed. Make sure everyone gets an FSA ID before you start the FAFSA. Learn more: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa/filling-out/fsaid

      The FAFSA has a feature that allows the student to transfer their parent’s information into a sibling’s FAFSA. This option will appear on the confirmation page, and the transfer will only work if the sibling has NOT started a new FAFSA yet. When the student gets to the final step, they have the option of transferring information to a brand new FAFSA (your other child’s). Screenshot: https://www.facebook.com/FederalStudentAid/photos/p.936351556445977/936351556445977/?type=3&theater

  45. Hello, I’m still learning how all of this works. My question/concern is… My Son is currently a Junior and my income has changed drastically and child support is hit/miss and will end months before he even graduates… How will I file income, that will no longer be available to him by the time he is in need? Basically if we were to apply it would show a lot larger income than what is available when he graduates. I’m worried he will be denied by past income that doesn’t reflect what will be current at time of need. Thank you

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