Time is money — and with FAFSA deadlines approaching, this is especially the truth.
The FAFSA deadline on June 30 will be here before you know it. Missing that date could mean missing money that will knock down the price of college!
We all know college can be expensive. Students who complete their FAFSA can help create more college opportunities for themselves. According to the National College Attainment Network, students with lower socioeconomic status who complete the FAFSA are associated with a 127 percent increase in immediate college enrollment after high school.
It’s more important now than ever to weigh out college payment options. As Financial Aid Awareness Month comes to a close, it’s essential that colleges highlight the importance of completing the FAFSA. It’s easy, free, and there’s more than enough help available for students to guide them through the process.
Even if the application is simple, there are still a few common mistakes students make along the way. We’ll outline the top five FAFSA fails for students to avoid so that they can be FAFSA aficionados.
Failing to Fill the Application on Time
Submitting the FAFSA application on time may seem obvious, but it’s one of the many reasons students don’t receive their federal aid.
FAFSA applications open on October 1 and close on June 30. Even though eight (almost nine!) months is long, you don’t want to wait until the last minute. The earlier students can file, the better. Filing early gives students the best chance to receive the most aid possible.
In 2021 alone, there was an estimated $3.75 billion in unclaimed Pell Grant money from students failing to file on time or not filing at all. Don’t let students fall behind — encourage them to round up required documents and information needed to file ASAP.
Foregoing the Entire Process
“One common mistake students make when applying for financial aid is skipping the FAFSA because they assume they will not be eligible,” says Nicole Barnes, Financial Aid Coordinator at Truckee Meadows Community College.
Every year, over 82 percent of college students receive financial aid from completing their FAFSA.
Even if students don’t think their current financial standing will earn them any money from federal aid, they should still fill it out. Students can receive other types of aid based on their needs. This includes aid like student loan eligibility and scholarships that aren’t necessarily based on financial need.
Filing the FAFSA is one of the best ways to ensure students go to college for the lowest cost possible. One of the biggest mistakes is assuming the process is a waste of time!
Forgetting to Double-Check the Application
According to the Federal Student Aid website, filling out the FAFSA should take less than an hour. This includes gathering documents, analyzing questions, and reviewing instructions. Many times, this is where students start to fumble.
Filling out the FAFSA can make or break the aid students receive based on their application. Simple mistakes, including misspellings, incorrect social security numbers, wrong addresses, and blank questions can delay the process and even cost students in aid.
Double-checking these applications can help move students along in the FAFSA process smoothly.
Failing to Ask for Help
“Another common mistake students make is not taking advantage of free FAFSA assistance from their college,” says Barnes.
These free FAFSA resources are so valuable for students. So let them know! This support can make students less intimidated to tackle their FAFSA application.
There are many reasons why students may not take advantage of these services on campus. Students might not know about the resources available to them or be unsure of where to find them.
Highlight your school’s support, so students get the best shot possible!
Forgetting to Refile
One of the most common missteps is forgetting to refile. Refiling the FAFSA is vital for students to get the most aid possible!
Luckily, FAFSA renewals are quick and straightforward. Most of the information is pre-filled based on the information included in the initial application. Renewals shouldn’t take students more than half an hour to complete, and should be easier to fill out.
Students who skip their annual renewal FAFSA are going to miss out on loans for that school year!
Don’t let your students stress about college costs. Completing the FAFSA as soon as possible can help your students get one step closer to their college careers.
Shine a spotlight on your financial aid resources, counselors, and support to let your students know you’ve got their back!