Making a mistake on the FAFSA can delay the processing of your application, because it takes an additional 2-3 weeks to process a corrected application. It is estimated 40% of FAFSA applications have at least one error.
A common error is to report total income tax equal to the Adjusted Gross Income.
Another common error is to report taxes withheld or tax due instead of total income tax.
Note that the FAFSA asks for the last line in the Tax and Credits section of the income tax return, not the total tax line of the Other Taxes section. The taxes in the Other Taxes section are traditionally not included in the FAFSA’s “total income tax” field, in part because they are already considered by the need analysis formula. If you use the wrong line from your income tax return, you will have made an error that needs to be corrected.
If you filed an IRS Form 1040 even though you were not required to file a 1040, you should fill in the oval to indicate whether you were eligible to file a 1040A or 1040EZ. If you can file 1040A or 1040EZ parent and student assets are not counted.
Use legal names as they appear on your Social Security card. Using a nickname or any other name will cause a processing delay.
Be careful to write your Social Security Number (SSN) and date of birth accurately and clearly. Any errors in the SSN or date of birth will cause processing delays.
If parents are divorced or separated, the parent with whom the student lived the most during the past 12 months is the parent responsible for filling out the FAFSA. This is not necessarily the same as the parent who has legal custody.
Rental properties are counted as investments, not business assets, unless they are part of a formally recognized business
Pensions, annuities and the cash value of a life insurance policy are not reported as an asset on the FAFSA.
Do not include employer contributions to retirement plans as part of the payments made to such plans. Only the employee’s contribution should be listed.
Family businesses with less than 100 employees are not counted.