Students Should Avoid Three Common Mistakes to Maximize Odds of Financial Aid

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NASFAA Has Advice and Resources To Help Families File The FAFSA

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“Financial aid administrators are here to help demystify the application process and help you attain all the aid for which you qualify,” NASFAA President Justin Draeger said.

The gateway to financial aid for college opens January 1, 2015, making this winter break the ideal time to prepare and complete your application correctly.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step toward finding funding for higher education, but many students don’t apply – and some who do end up making errors that may limit the amount of funding they receive.

The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) wants all students to apply for financial aid, and has free resources to help make the process easier, including a guide on “FAFSA Tips and Common Mistakes To Avoid.”

“Don’t pass up funds that can help you pay for college,” NASFAA President Justin Draeger said. “Financial aid administrators are here to help demystify the application process and help you attain all the aid for which you qualify.”

For starters, avoid making common mistakes by taking these three steps:

1. Finish the application: The FAFSA requires detailed tax information, but the process may not take as long as you think. Using the IRS Data Retrieval tool, the online form pulls information from a user’s IRS data and uses skip logic to auto-populate some fields. Don’t just start the application – see it through to the end.

2. Enter the correct dollar amount your household earned: Last year, some families accidentally appeared to be millionaires when they entered the dollars and cents they earned, and the decimal points added didn’t register in the online FAFSA form. The Department of Education reprocessed more than 300,000 applications to fix the form error. Skip the confusion this year by rounding to the nearest dollar you earned.

3. File each year: Whether you are entering college for the first or fourth year, you should file the FAFSA. Applying for financial aid is an annual process – but some users stop filing the FAFSA after freshman year. The Department of Education offers a Renewal FAFSA to cut down on the time spent each year.

NASFAA has experts on hand to discuss why filing the FAFSA correctly is critical, as well as steps policymakers can take to make the process even simpler in the future. To speak to a NASFAA expert, please email us at news(at)nasfaa(dot)org or call 202-785-6959.

About NASFAA
The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) is a nonprofit membership organization that represents more than 20,000 financial aid professionals at nearly 3,000 colleges, universities, and career schools across the country. NASFAA member institutions serve nine out of every ten undergraduates in the U.S. Based in Washington, DC, NASFAA is the only national association with a primary focus on student aid legislation, regulatory analysis, and training for financial aid administrators. For more information, visit http://www.nasfaa.org.

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Erin Timmons
NASFAA
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