Avoid These Common FAFSA Errors

Mistakes can delay your application, potentially limiting the amount of aid you are eligible to receive.

Here are some common errors to avoid:

  • Leaving fields blank. Too many blanks may cause miscalculations and a possible application rejection. Enter a "0" or "not applicable" instead of leaving a blank.
  • Forgetting to round. Always round to the nearest dollar. Do not enter cents. Do not use commas or decimal points in numeric fields.
  • Entering the wrong personal information. Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and driver's license numbers MUST be correct. Double and triple check these entries. If your parents do not have Social Security numbers, list 000-00-0000. Do NOT make up a taxpayer i.d. number; it won't work!
  • Using the wrong name. Use your legal name as it appears on your Social Security card. Do NOT use nicknames, preferred names, or other variations.
  • Entering the wrong address. Use only your permanent address, not a temporary campus or summer address. 
  • Entering the wrong federal income tax amount. The correct amount that you paid is on your income tax return form, not on your W-2 form. If you haven't filed your taxes, you can estimate this amount using the appropriate tax year information and correct the amounts later on the corrections page of the FAFSA website.
  • Entering the wrong number of tax-deferred pension payments. Enter the amount listed on the W-2 form, Box 12, with codes of D, E, F, G, H, and S. Do NOT include the DD code amount, if any.
  • Entering the wrong number of taxable grants and scholarships. Enter only the TAXABLE amount of any grants and scholarships you or your parent received. If your total grants and scholarships are more than the cost of tuition and required fees and other costs, not including room and board, then you most likely have taxable grants. The taxable amount would be the amount above the total of tuition and fees. It is rare to have taxable grants and scholarships. Please refer to IRS Publication 970 for more information or consult with your tax professional.
  • Incorrectly filing income taxes as "head of household." If there is an error in the "head of household" filing status, we will need an amended tax return filed with the IRS before disbursing aid.
  • Incorrectly listing the parents' marital status. If your custodial parent has remarried, you will need to report the step-parent's information on the FAFSA as well.
  • Forgetting to count yourself as a member of the household. The student completing the FAFSA must count himself as a member of the household attending college during the award year.
  • Forgetting to list Hampshire College on the FAFSA. Be sure to include Hampshire College's federal code of 4661 on the FAFSA.
  • Forgetting to sign and date the FAFSA. If you are completing the online FAFSA, be sure to use your FSA ID to electronically sign the form. If your FAFSA requires information about your custodial parent(s) you AND a one of these parents must sign the FAFSA. If you are filling out the paper FAFSA, be sure that you and a parent, if applicable, sign it.  We strongly encourage the online version.

>> View additional tips and common mistakes to avoid.