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February is Financial Aid Awareness Month

This spring acceptance letters will begin to appear in mailboxes across the country. Soon-to-be undergrads, and their parents, have many questions about the future, but maybe none as pressing as “How will I pay for this? ”

For many, federal financial aid plays an important part in making higher education affordable. Every October, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) opens for students seeking financial aid from the government. Completing the FAFSA application is the first step to determining your eligibility for grants, scholarships, work-study programs and federal student loans. However, any errors you make on the form could mean receiving less aid than you qualify for.

Check out these common mistakes and tips to avoid them:

Not Completing an Application 

  • While it's common for many families believe their income is to high to qualify for FAFSA, there's no limits to determine eligibility. Everyone who plans to attend college or graduate school should complete the application.

Not Filing the FAFSA form by the Deadline

  • You should fill out the FAFSA form as soon as it’s available, but you should definitely fill it out before your earliest FAFSA deadline. Each state and school sets its own deadline, and some are very early.

Not Getting an FSA ID Before Filling out the FAFSA Form

  • It’s important to get a account username and password (FSA ID) before filling out the FAFSA form. When you register for an FSA ID, you may need to wait up to three days before you can use it to sign your FAFSA form electronically. 

Not Reading Definitions Carefully

  • When it comes to completing the FAFSA form, you’ll want to read each definition and each question carefully. Sometimes the FAFSA form is looking for very specific information that may not be obvious.

Listing Only One College

  • Unless you’re applying to only one college or already know where you’re going to school, you should include more than one. Colleges can’t see the other schools you’ve added, so you should add all colleges you’re considering to your FAFSA® form, even if you aren’t sure whether you’ll apply or be accepted.

Check out a full list of common mistakes including tips to properly complete the FASFA at