The first and most common mistake many students and families make is assuming they can’t afford a secondary education. However, there are many options available to students when it comes to getting their college degree. Financial aid can significantly reduce the cost of college, but it can be hard to estimate how much funding a student will receive.
Every fall, students across the United States begin the process of applying for financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. This application allows you to apply for financial aid at multiple colleges and from multiple funding sources.
FAFSA Tips and Things to Avoid
When is the best time to complete your FAFSA form? The answer is easy, apply as early as possible. Here is a checklist you’ll want to keep on hand when you begin your application. It is a good idea to have this checklist on hand while filling out your application so you can avoid making any mistakes.
Apply Early and Online
The sooner you complete the application the more aid your student could receive. Many states and colleges use the FAFSA to determine eligibility for non-federal student aid funds that may have limited funding or early deadlines. The good news is, you no longer have to wait until you have completed your tax return to file your FAFSA. You now use the information from the two years prior, allowing you to complete the application as soon as it becomes available.
Online applications are the easiest to complete because it uses skip-logic to ask only relevant questions based on your previous answers. Applications completed online are also processed faster and will likely be more accurate — the FAFSA website is designed to catch common mistakes made by applicants.
Common FAFSA Errors to Avoid
Mistakes made on your application can delay the approval process and limit the amount of aid you may receive. Make sure you carefully read each question on the application to avoid errors. Here are some ways to avoid the most common errors:
- Try not to leave too many blank fields. This may cause miscalculations and an application rejection. Instead of leaving a question blank, enter ‘0’ or ‘not applicable’.
- Avoid entering decimal points and commas in numerical fields. Always round to the nearest whole number.
- Double and triple check that you’ve entered your student’s Social Security and driver’s license number correctly.
- Always list the legal name of your student on the FAFSA application as it appears on their Social Security card. Do not enter nicknames or other variations.
- Obtain the Federal School Code for the college your student plans to attend along with any other schools that they’ve applied to.
- If filling out the paper application, make sure to sign and date it.
The FAFSA for the upcoming academic year (July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020) is already available online. Start your application by visiting the official FAFSA website.
Union Bank Can Help You Save For College
Although Union Bank does not offer education loans, we offer a variety of ways to help you save for college expenses. Please contact one of our Union Bank Advisors in your local branch to learn more. View our branch locations to find the location nearest you, and let’s get started today!