Common FAFSA Mistakes

Here are12 common mistakes that applicants make when completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application taken from a Department of Education Financial Aid helps page.  (Posted by Nicole Callahan September 25, 2017)


Not Completing the FAFSA Form

If you don’t complete the FAFSA form, you could lose out on thousands of dollars to help you pay for college. It takes little time to complete, and there are “Help and Hints” provided throughout the application.

Not Using the Correct Website

The official FAFSA website is (that’s “.gov”!) You will never have to pay to complete the FAFSA form. If you’re asked to provide credit card information, you’re not on the official government website.

Not Filling Out the FAFSA Form as Soon as It’s Available

October 1st is the FAFSA open date. This is when you should begin your application.

Not Filing the FAFSA Form by the Deadline

June 30th is the Federal FAFSA deadline. If your application is not completed and submitted by this date, you will not receive FAFSA money. Even if you don’t think you will go to college, you should still complete a FAFSA application prior to the deadline. Visit to create an FSA ID. If you are a high school student, you are most likely a dependent, and one of your parents will.

Not Getting an FSA ID Before Filling Out the FAFSA Form

Before starting the FAFSA application, you will need an FSA ID. After registering 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 Using Your FSA ID to Start the FAFSA Form

When you go to, you will be given two options to log in:
  1. Enter your (the student’s) FSA ID
  2. Enter the student’s information
If you’re the student, you should choose the first option. Why? When you do, some of your personal information (name, Social Security number, date of birth, etc.) will be automatically loaded into your application. This will prevent you from running into a common error that occurs when your verified FSA ID information doesn’t match the information on your FAFSA form. Also, you won’t have to enter your FSA ID again to transfer your information from the IRS or to sign your FAFSA form electronically.

Not Using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT)

Students and parents who are eligible can automatically transfer their necessary tax information into the FAFSA form using the IRS DRT.

If you’re eligible to use the IRS DRT, we highly recommend using the tool for several reasons:
  • It's the easiest way to provide your tax return information
  • It's the best way of ensuring that your FAFSA form has accurate tax information.
  • You won't need to provide a copy of your or your parent's tax returns to your college.

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.

Inputting Incorrect Information

Confusing parent information with student information
  • Entering information that doesn’t match your FSA ID information
  • Amount of your income tax

Not Reporting Required Information

If your parents claim you as a dependent on their taxes, both student and parent sections must be completed on your FAFSA application

Listing only One College

This is a mistake unless you are applying to only one college or already know where you’re going to school. Colleges can’t see the other schools you’ve added, so you should add ALL colleges you are considering to your FAFSA form, even if you aren’t sure whether you’ll apply or be accepted. You can add up to 10 schools at a time.

Not Signing the FAFSA Form

So many students answer every single question that is asked, but fail to actually sign the FAFSA form with their FSA ID and submit it. This happens for many reasons—maybe you forgot your FSA ID, or your parent isn’t with you to sign with the parent FSA ID—so your application is left incomplete. Don’t let this happen to you!

If you’re not able to sign with your FSA ID, there’s an option to print and mail a signature page. If you would like confirmation that your FAFSA form has been submitted, you can check your status immediately after you submit your FAFSA form online.