Tips for Completing the FAFSA®

Note that the FAFSA® is always free. Never pay a fee to apply for federal aid.

Tips for your FAFSA®

The FAFSA® is available online and in paper format, but we encourage students to use the online version at If you need to use the paper version, call 1.800.4.FED.AID to request a paper FAFSA®. The online version will skip questions that are not relevant to you, catch errors, and allow you to submit the application instantly. You can also save the online form to complete it later, and sign it electronically using your FSA ID. You need to file a FAFSA® each year to maintain your eligibility for federal and Hampshire College aid.

Watch a tutorial on completing the online FAFSA® form.

If you completed a FAFSA® for the previous school year, select the option to complete a RENEWAL application (click on the Log In button in the Returning User section of the first page of This will allow certain fields to be transferred from your previous year's FAFSA®. Be sure to review these pre-filled fields to make sure the information is still accurate. Be sure to select the appropriate FAFSA® year.

The FAFSA® asks questions about your and your family's income and financial resources. Most of the information you need to complete the FAFSA® is on income tax return(s). You can also import your IRS data directly into the online form by using the Direct Data Exchange with the IRS within the FAFSA® form itself. To do this you will need to give consent/approval to have your federal tax information transmitted while completing the FAFSA®.

Review Pro Tips from the Department of Education for additional assistance in completing your FAFSA® application.

Review the What's new on the FAFSA® section to learn about any new changes.

If you have any questions about completing the FAFSA®, please contact the FAFSA® center at 1.800.4.FED.AID (1.800.433.3243) or Hampshire's financial aid office.

Common FAFSA® Errors to avoid

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, then you can use the tax payer identification number. If that is not available, call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-433-3243 for assistance.
  • 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. See question, "How do I make corrections to my FAFSA® Submission Summary (FSS)," on our FAFSA® Form page.
  • 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 is 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 parent has remarried, you will need to report the step-parent's information on the FAFSA® as well.
  • Forgetting to count yourself in the family size. The student completing the FAFSA® must count themself as a member of the family size and attending college during the award year.
  • Forgetting to list Hampshire College on the FAFSA®. Be sure to include Hampshire College's federal code of 004661 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 parent(s) (or your spouse) you AND a parent (or spouse) must sign the FAFSA®. If you are filling out the paper FAFSA®, be sure that you and a parent or spouse, if applicable, sign it.