Tips to avoid common mistakes when applying for FAFSA

Filling out and submitting your FAFSA is a relatively painless process that should take about 30-60 minutes to complete. Follow these tips to avoid common mistakes and ensure your application is properly filled out the first time and able to be processed in a timely manner.

Need help getting started on filling out your FAFSA? Check out our guide to apply for FAFSA.

Common FAFSA mistakes to avoid

Don’t leave fields blank.

  • Too many blanks may cause miscalculations and an application rejection. When applicable, enter a ‘0’ (zero) or 'not applicable' instead of leaving a blank.

Don’t use commas or decimal points in numeric fields.

  • Always round to the nearest dollar. For example: Enter 41899 rather than $41,898.74.

Don’t enter an incorrect Social Security number or driver's license number.

  • Double and triple ­check these entries to ensure accuracy. If your parents don’t have Social Security numbers, list 000‐00-­0000. Don’t make up a number or include a taxpayer identification number (TIN).

Don’t use anything other than your legal name.

  • Your name must be listed on your FAFSA as it appears on your Social Security card. Don't enter nicknames or other variations on your name.

Don’t enter the wrong address.

  • Don't enter a temporary campus or summer address as your permanent address. You must use the address of your permanent residence.
  • For the fastest results, enter your address exactly as it appears on your tax forms. For example: If your tax forms show your address as 123 Ave., do not spell out 123 Avenue on the FAFSA.

Don’t enter the wrong federal income tax paid amount.

  • This amount is on your income tax return forms from two years prior, not your W‐2 form(s). This information can be retrieved directly from the IRS if you don’t have your tax return forms handy.

Don’t list your adjusted gross income (AGI) as equal to total income from working.

  • Adjusted gross income (AGI) and total income from working are not necessarily the same. In most cases, the AGI is larger than the total income from working.

Don’t incorrectly file income taxes as head of household.

  • If there is an error in the head of household filing status, ASU will need an amended tax return to be filed with the IRS before paying out aid awards.

Don’t list your marital status incorrectly.

  • The Department of Education wants to know your marital status on the day you sign the FAFSA. If you’re in a legally recognized marriage, you’ll need to provide your spouse's information as well.

Don’t list parent marital status incorrectly.

  • If your custodial parent has remarried, you'll need to include the stepparent's information on the FAFSA. If you have two parents in a legally­ recognized same-­sex marriage, you'll need to list both parents (one as Parent 1, and one as Parent 2). Please refer to studentaid.gov’s guide to who is considered a parent for help determining how to properly complete this section.

Don’t forget to report unborn children.

  • If you have a child who will be born before or during the award year and you’ll provide the child with more than half of their support, count that child as a member of the household.

Don’t forget to count yourself as a student.

  • The student completing the FAFSA must count himself or herself as a member of the household attending college during the award year.

Don’t forget to register with Selective Service.

  • If you’re a male, aged 18 to 26, you must register with Selective Service. Failure to register will make you ineligible for federal student aid.

Don’t forget to list the college you’re planning to attend.

  • Obtain the Federal School Code for the college you plan on attending and list it along with any other schools you've applied to attend. Arizona State University’s school code is 001081.

Don’t forget to sign and date.

  • If you're filling out the paper FAFSA, be sure to sign and submit it.

Don’t send in a copy of your income tax returns.

  • If ASU requires additional information to process your financial aid, it will be requested through a Financing Task on your Finance Tab of My ASU.
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