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Common FAFSA Errors Carol Handlan, PHEAA

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Presentation on theme: "Common FAFSA Errors Carol Handlan, PHEAA"— Presentation transcript:

1 Common FAFSA Errors Carol Handlan, PHEAA Higher Education Access Partner Wendy Dunlap, PHEAA Higher Education Access Partner,

2 Overview of Session FAFSA Filing Preparation & Deadlines
Common Mistakes Resolution of Errors Avoidance of Errors PA State Grant Impact Materials/Resources

3 Our Goals Meet Deadlines Avoid Errors Update and Correct
What should be a seamless process, often is not.

4 Before Ever Filing A FAFSA…
Trusted Resources Financial Knowledge Early Preparation Do most, some, any of your FAFSA applicants have the benefit of early preparation, trusted resources and financial knowledge?

5 FAFSA Preparation Encourage families to prepare early
-start no later than junior year -attend financial aid nights -attend FAFSA presentations -research trusted websites Have checklist of all required documents Have a list of schools considering attending

6 FAFSA Deadlines Discuss school deadlines

7 Filing Guidance Advise to apply early Advise to apply at
- For families without computers -suggest high school counselor -community library -FAFSA workshops -local postsecondary school

8 Filing Guidance IRS Data Retrieval (online filing) - use when possible
- helps simplify the process - helps reduce errors Use correct website - Have all documents necessary before starting Read the questions - FIRST Provide resources like the FAFSA Tip Sheet

9 FAFSA Deadlines After January 1 of student’s senior year for attendance in the fall of the same year - do not mistake the June 30th filing date - example (January 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016) File by the school’s financial aid deadline If necessary, file an estimated FAFSA to ensure deadline is met

10 Common Mistakes

11 Common Mistakes Listing incorrect Social Security number
- do not guess take directly from Social Security card - student’s MUST have an SSN - parent’s without SSN can put all zero's Failing to use legal name -take directly from Social Security card -no nicknames

12 Common Mistakes Leaving fields blank - Enter “0” or “not applicable”
Using commas or decimals points in numeric fields - Round to nearest dollar Failure to enter correct address - Both student & parent can provide address; can be the same

13 Common Mistakes Entering information in wrong section
- financial sections for students and parents are identical - student information must be in their section - parent information must be in their section Entering the wrong address - should enter permanent address - do not enter school or temporary address

14 Common Mistakes Failure to list correct marital status
- Student – it is their status the day they file the FAFSA - Parent – it is their status the day they file the FAFSA; if remarried spouse must be included

15 Common Mistakes Failing to report both parents
- biological or adoptive - both incomes must be reported if living in same household Failure of student to report self - needs to be included in household Failure to report unborn child - needs to be included in household if born before or during award year

16 Common Mistakes Incorrect income tax filing status - head of household
- if incorrectly selected and filed the school will need to see a copy of an amended income tax return filed with the IRS Total income vs adjusted gross income - this should be different from total income reported; typically not equal to total income

17 Common Mistakes Student’s failure to register with selective service
- recommend checking “automatically register me” if not yet 18 years of age Student’s failure to list a postsecondary school

18 Common Mistakes Failure to sign and date the FAFSA
- If dependent, both the student and their parent(s) must sign and date the FAFSA - Online or print the signature page & send Forgetting to actually submit a FAFSA correction

19 Common Mistakes Applicants pick the wrong application year

20 Fixing Errors How to fix errors

21 Resolving FAFSA Errors
What internal processes do you have for finding errors? Do you go beyond meeting verification requirements? What procedures do you have for handling conflicting data? Are there certain items that you always investigate? For example – independency status How do you notify students concerning FAFSA errors?

22 IRS Data Retrieval

23 Resolving FAFSA Errors
Do you remind students who estimate answers to correct their FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval? How successful are your reminders?

24 UCSB Video – IRS Data Retrieval

25 Easy Street How to Avoid Errors

26 Avoiding Mistakes Prepare early Read through the FAFSA material
File income taxes early Have necessary documents ready before sitting down to complete the FAFSA Take your time – don’t rush

27 State Grant and relationship with FAFSA

28 FAFSA Filing Impact on PA State Grant
Can apply for PA State Grant directly from FAFSA on the State Grant Form (SGF) When completing the SGF advise students to print a copy of the Certification Form Recommend that students establish an account on via Account Access to track the status of State Grant Record

29 Account Access

30 Resolving PA State Grant Errors
Students may view messages from State Grant in Account Access. School staff can view what a student can see in Account Access by logging into Account Access in Alec. You can only view accounts that have been “established” by the student.

31 FAFSA Filing Impact on PA State Grant & Special Programs
New for Ready to Succeed Scholarship - First come, first serve basis - Determined by FAFSA filing date

32 Resources that help with completing the FAFSA


34 Resources – FAFSA Ti FAFSA Tips and Common Mistakes to Avoid Flyer
You Tube Videos about filing the FAFSA FAFSA Tooolkit


36 FAFSA Toolkit on

37 Questions?

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