Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an important first step for paying for college. But if you make a mistake on the form when you apply for FAFSA, you can miss out on grants or loans. Luckily, you can make corrections if you catch them early.
Here’s a FAFSA FAQ to help you fix any mistakes you made when applying for your FAFSA.
1. Forgetting to list a school
It’s a good idea to include any schools you are considering attending. A pricey school may offer you a great deal on the cost of attendance, through scholarships, grants, or programs for low-income students.
When you complete the FAFSA, you can select up to 10 schools on your application if you file online, or only four if you complete the paper version. And if you already have included 10 schools on the FAFSA, you can still add another, but you will have to choose a school to remove to make room for it.
Once you remove a school, that institution will no longer have access to new information about you. This could impact your financial aid options. But if you decide to look at another school, or want to remove another university after submitting your application, you can do so.
To edit your school choices:
- Click on the login page to apply for FAFSA and enter your username and password.
- Click on “Make FAFSA Corrections” and navigate to the school selection homepage.
- Search for your school by state, then by college name.
- Select your intended school and click “Add.”
2. Entering an incorrect Social Security Number
Your Social Security Number is a unique identifier the government uses to verify your information and situation. Unfortunately, if you made a mistake on your FAFSA dealing with your SSN, you can’t make a correction to your application online.
The online form does not allow you to change your SSN once the FAFSA is completed. But that doesn’t mean you’re completely stuck.
Instead, reach out directly to the financial aid offices of the schools you want to attend. They will be able to help you with the next steps ao that you can fill out and submit a new FAFSA if necessary.
3. Reporting changes to your economic situation
When you complete the FAFSA, you have to provide a snapshot of your finances. The federal government will ask you to share your income as listed on your tax returns, investments, real estate, or 529 plan savings.
The FAFSA captures your economic situation in a moment in time. So if anything happens to your finances after you submit your application, there’s usually nothing you can do. For example, if you submit your FAFSA and your car breaks down the next day, you may have to empty out your savings to pay for the repairs. But you can’t edit your FAFSA with that change.
But in some circumstances, you can still make major life changes known, and schools will take them into account. For instance, if your parents are laid off from their jobs, one of the household earners dies, or there is a major illness or disability, you can reach out to the schools’ financial aid offices to let them know.
Schools will keep those changes in mind when deciding financial aid packages and issuing need-based grants.
4. Missing the FAFSA deadline
To be eligible for federal financial aid, you can submit your FAFSA starting Oct. 1 of the year prior to the year you will attend school. The federal deadline for the FAFSA falls a year and a half later.
For the 2018-2019 school year, for example, you can submit your FAFSA between Oct. 1, 2017 and June 30, 2019. Any corrections must be submitted by Sept. 14, 2019.
However, while you technically have until the end of June to apply for FAFSA, it’s better to fill it out sooner rather than later. The earlier you apply, the better your chances of getting grants and other limited funds from your intended schools.
And many colleges and universities have their own deadlines that may be different than the federal cutoff. Check with the college’s financial aid offices to see when their deadline is.
If you miss either the federal deadline or the school’s deadline to apply for FAFSA, fill it out as soon as you realize your mistake. Then contact the college or university’s financial aid office to explain what happened, including any extenuating circumstances that may have delayed you.
Depending on the school, and how much money is left, you may still be eligible for some forms of aid. It’s always worth reaching out to the office to see if they can help you.
Completing the FAFSA
Filling out and submitting the FAFSA is an important step in getting you the financial aid you deserve. Completing it accurately and ahead of the deadline can ensure you get the aid you need, but if you make a mistake, don’t panic. Be proactive.
Use this FAFSA FAQ to correct and mistakes and immediately reach out to the school financial aid offices. If you need help with the FAFSA form itself, you can call the FAFSA help line at 1-800-4FED-AID.
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