3. Not filling out the special circumstances form
This form is available from your financial aid office. It lets you report any special reasons why your FAFSA® isn't an accurate statement of your current finances.
Here are a few reasons why your form could be inaccurate:
- You got married since filling out the form and are now considered an independent student
- You had a costly medical expense
- Your or your family’s income decreased—this is especially relevant if you quit your job or reduced your hours to go back to school.
4. Not listing a transfer school
Every school you’re thinking about attending should be listed on the form. If you don’t add a school you’re planning to transfer to, that college may believe that you don’t want any financial aid. The same goes for a community college or summer program you might attend.
You may even be able to use financial aid to cover expenses for studying at a school overseas. Talk to your school’s financial aid office to learn more about the type of aid for which you’re eligible and how to get it, based on the program you’re enrolled in.
5. Thinking you can’t get financial aid because you didn’t last year
College is a chance for renewal. For instance, your grades may be better now than in high school, and you may have become more involved in sports or extracurricular activities that qualify you for more college scholarships. Call your financial aid office to see what types of scholarships you might qualify for this year. Also, talk to the office of your major to see if there are scholarships you might qualify for directly from them as well.
You should also double check free resources like the Sallie Mae Scholarship Search.
6. Not changing auto-populated information on the FAFSA®
Things may have changed since you last filled out the FAFSA®. While the auto-populated info on your Renewal FAFSA® can be helpful, you should check all the data to make sure it represents your current information—including your address, email, and colleges you’d like to attend next year if you plan on transferring.
7. Not asking for help
Even if you’re a second-year grad student and have successfully submitted the FAFSA® multiple times before, you still may have questions about the Renewal FAFSA®. The good news is there are plenty of resources out there that can help you tackle your concerns.
If you have questions regarding deadlines, eligibility for aid, or the application process itself, contact your school’s financial aid office. The FSA also has its own Help Section that lets you chat online, call, or email your questions.
These common Renewal FAFSA® mistakes are easily avoidable and can save you thousands on college costs. Make sure you provide the most accurate and up-to-date information to qualify for college grants, scholarships, and federal student loans every year.
One final tip: don’t forget to sign and date the application before you hit “Submit!”