FAFSA hints and tips:
- Leaving a field blank. If the answer to an asset or income question is zero, then put in a "0".
- Matches. Matching names to Social Security numbers -- especially important if you use different or maiden names.
- Signatures. Both the parent and student must sign the FAFSA form. If completing the form online and you have received a PIN at www.pin.ed.gov before you complete the FAFSA online, then you don't have to worry about the signature requirement since your PIN serves as your electronic signature.
Visit the PIN web site.
- Income. Do not use your W-2 to report income. Use the Adjusted Gross Income directly from your Form 1040 income tax return. Note the line number from the tax form for finding the correct amounts.
- Taxes paid. Report the actual income taxes paid from your Form 1040 income tax return rather than those shown withheld on your W-2. Note the line number from the tax form for finding the correct amounts.
- Definitions. Pay close attention to the definitions of parents, dependents, marital status, and age requests.
- Selection. If using the online version of FAFSA, don't check the "Early Analysis" flag. This will not send a report to any college, but rather is reserved for high-school students who are not yet going to college but are interested in a free evaluation of their status in order to better prepare for the real thing -- not a bad idea for those who want to position themselves better for the future.
- Inclusions. Prepaid tuition plans, pensions and cash-value life insurance policies should not be reported as assets on the FAFSA. If you have any questions, check with a tax preparer.
- Attachments. Do not include anything with the form when you mail it. If you have extenuating circumstances you feel should be considered you should ask for a professional judgment review from the school's financial aid administrator