The Surprisingly Difficult FAFSA Application

I recently perused a short article written by Elizabeth Levine that dealt with the most common mistakes on the FAFSA that are costly to the applicants. It surprised me to see what was included in the top 10 mistakes. I understand the confusion of dealing with blended families, assets of business owners, multiple savings options and the like. But, a few of them caused me to scratch my head.

  • Missing the financial aid deadline; if getting financial aid means the difference in your child going to college or not, how do you let that happen?
  • Transposing digits that can mislead evaluators by hundreds of thousands of dollars; again, if this is important at least one other person should read over it before hitting the submit button.

Along those same lines is failing to apply at all.

Usually, when something causes me to scratch my head an internet search soon follows. The search only led to more head scratching. Giving up at the first question that can’t be answered off the top of your head was high on the next list. Also present was not signing the form after putting in all the work to finish it. And here I thought what kept our most needy students from taking advantage of the meager federal funds was an overly complicated form.

Why does something that has been around for so long remain such a mystery to the people who most need it? Just about every high school I have every had contact with has multiple financial aid workshops with staff on site to walk families through completing the FAFSA. If anyone has a better idea, the time to speak up is now.

Fill in all the blanks, don’t mingle parent and student information, get your FAFSA ID well in advance of any deadlines and complete the form in the same month as it launches – October. If you to these things, maybe you can be one of the lucky ones that avoid delays and confusion with receiving the money you need to further your education.

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