The Free Application for
Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is a form you submit to determine your
eligibility to receive financial aid. This form asks various questions on information
you probably haven’t thought about before. Since these questions may be uncommon
to you and your family, it’s easy to make a mistake when completing the application.
If you need to make corrections to the FAFSA after you’ve submitted it, there
are a few ways you can fix the errors.
- Log back in – If you need to correct some information on your FAFSA, such as change your high school’s name or add more colleges to the application, you can simply log back into the FAFSA form. To do this, you’ll need your FSA ID. When you log in, you’ll see a box that shows information about your application status, along with your next steps in the FAFSA process. Under this box is a section that says, “You can also”. In that section, find the link to “Make FAFSA Corrections”. Click on the link to access your application. After you’ve made the necessary changes, submit the application again with the correct information. Don’t forget to sign the FAFSA again with your FSA ID!
- Update your SAR – When you first submit your FAFSA, it generates a Student Aid Report or SAR. This report shows all the information you entered on your application. If you need to change your name or Social Security number, you can make those adjustments by printing out your SAR and correcting the errors. Unfortunately, the application doesn’t allow you to update this information on the electronic version. You can find and print your SAR in the “You can also” section of FAFSA.gov, after you’ve logged in with your FSA ID. Once you’ve printed out the report and made your changes, mail the corrected SAR to the address stated on the form. Additionally, if you need to change your name due to marriage, divorce, etc., you must first make those changes with the Social Security Administration (SSA). When SSA has corrected your information, you can then update your FSA ID, as well as the FAFSA form, with the right data.
- Speak with financial aid – For small changes such as updating your email or mailing address, you can use the previous two methods. However, if you need to correct financial information on the FAFSA, especially if you used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, you may have to submit corrections through the financial aid office at your anticipated school. Students who manually entered their financial information on the FAFSA can log back into FAFSA.gov and make changes. Those who used the IRS Data Retrieval tool to complete the income portion must speak with their financial aid office to fix any errors. Talk to the office about the errors that were made and learn how you can correct the mistakes. The financial aid office may want extra documentation, so be sure to give them all the required information. You can make changes to your name or Social Security number through the financial aid office as well.
Submitting the FAFSA with
the right information is important. If you need to make changes, don’t wait.
Adjust your answers as soon as you learn a mistake was made. Using any of these
methods will help you successfully make changes. For more information on how to
submit FAFSA corrections, go to studentaid.ed.gov.
Once you hit the ‘Submit’ button after completing your FAFSA
(Free Application for Federal Student Aid), you’ll receive a confirmation page.
The confirmation means your FAFSA has been received by the Federal Student Aid
(FSA) Processing Center and they’ll begin to review your application. A few
days after that you’ll be notified that your FAFSA results have been sent to
the colleges you entered on your application. You’ll also be able to review
your Student Aid Report (SAR). The SAR lists the information you entered on
your FAFSA and allows you to determine if any changes should be made. Follow
the directions provided to retrieve your SAR and read the report carefully. The
first page will contain valuable information about the next steps you should
If you find any errors on your SAR, go to FAFSA.gov, access
your online FAFSA application and make the necessary corrections. If you’re
changing one of your (student)answers, click ‘I am the student’ once
you’ve logged in and enter your FSA ID and Save Key. If your parent(s) are
updating one of their answers, they should click ‘I am a parent.’ They will log
in using your personal identifying information along with the same Save Key.
Don’t let anyone else log in with your FSA ID!
Please note: If
any changes need to be made to the income figures provided on the FAFSA by you
or your parent(s), it’s possible that your college financial aid office may have
to make the changes for you. Students and parents who utilize the IRS DRT
(Internal Revenue Service Data Retrieval Tool) can download their income
figures from the IRS directly into their FAFSA, which can save you time and
additional paperwork. To keep your information secure, however, once figures
are downloaded you are unable to see them. Only your financial aid office will
be able to view the results, and only they can make any necessary corrections. If
changes do need to be made, you must provide your aid officer with the Data
Release Number (DRN) which appears at the top of the SAR. Remember, never give
your FSA ID to anyone in the financial aid office.
The colleges you included on your FAFSA will receive the
results of your application from FSA directly. They will then begin working on
a financial aid ‘package’ for you by determining your eligibility for funds
from various federal, state and institutional resources. A financial aid offer
will be sent to you through the mail or via email. You’ll be given a deadline
to respond to the offer, letting the school know if you’ll accept or decline a part
or all of the aid they’ve awarded. Remember, you don’t have to accept
You may not receive an offer from every school listed on
your FAFSA. Some universities may wait to provide a financial aid offer until
you’ve been admitted to their school. If you don’t receive a response from one
of your schools, contact their financial aid office to ensure they’ve received
your FAFSA results.
From that point on, follow the directions given to you by
the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend. They’ll be your best
resource for any questions you may have about the financial aid process.
We all know life happens! From losing a job, to dissolving a
marriage, to unexpectedly taking in an elderly parent or relative, life has a
way of throwing a variety of situations at you. Sometimes these situations can
have an impact on the financial aid you receive for college.
Whether you’re planning for college as a new freshman, or
continuing your education as an upperclassman, you must complete a FAFSA (Free
Application for Federal Student Aid) in order to qualify for federal and some
state financial aid. You can access the new 2020-2021 FAFSA now at FAFSA.gov.
The FAFSA measures your ability to qualify for grants, work-study and student
loans. The FAFSA doesn’t, however indicate your job layoff last month or all
the medical expenses your parent is paying for your younger brother.
These types of situations can be determined as special circumstances. Visit with the financial aid office at your college or career technology center to share any conditions you feel are not accurately reflected on your FAFSA. Your situation may be reviewed and if approved, could be deemed a special circumstance. Any revisions to your FAFSA data may also cause changes to your financial aid eligibility, offering a possible increase in your funding.
Examples of a special circumstance might be:
– A significant change in income after your FAFSA was originally filed.
– The death of a spouse, parent or other family member.
– A job change or layoff.
– Unexpected medical expenses.
– A marriage, divorce or separation after the FAFSA was submitted.
– An incarcerated parent or spouse.
If you fall into one of these categories, or experience something completely different, contact your institution’s financial aid office for further instruction.
If you’ve decided to go to college as a nontraditional student or as an adult learner then congratulations! It’s never too late to learn and grow. Now that you’ve made this decision, it’s time to think about financial aid – monetary support that helps cover the costs of college such as grants, student loans and scholarships. You might assume that you won’t qualify for financial assistance because you’re a nontraditional student, but there are various financial resources to help you on your college journey. One resource that you should utilize first is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. Regardless of your educational background or age, you should always submit a FAFSA every year that you’re in need of financial aid. The FAFSA allows you to apply for federal and some state financial assistance for college. Your school’s financial aid office will use the information you provide on the application to determine your aid eligibility. They will be able to see if you qualify for grants, work-study and/or student loans. In case you haven’t decided which school you’ll attend, the FAFSA can be sent to up to ten schools at one time. Once you’ve submitted your FAFSA, be sure to contact the financial aid offices if you have any questions.
Whether this is your first time submitting a FAFSA or it’s been a while since you’ve seen the application, here are a few tips to help you successfully complete the form:
Gather your materials – Before you start the application you’ll need to round up a few necessary items: your social security card, tax returns and other financial information. The FAFSA will ask you to provide your income figures as well as your personal identification information. Your W-2s and other bank statements will be helpful with this section of the FAFSA.
Create an FSA ID – An FSA ID (Federal Student Aid Identification) is your username and password for logging into FAFSA.gov. This login will also serve as your electronic signature for completing the FAFSA. It only takes about ten minutes to create an FSA ID. During the process you will be asked to provide your identification information and select a few challenge questions to answer in case you need to reset your ID at a later date. Use this FSA ID Worksheet to help you keep track of your FSA ID information. To create your FSA ID, go to fsaid.ed.gov.
Use the correct website – FAFSA.gov is the official website to access the FAFSA form. You can also find the application by using the myStudentAid mobile app. The first “f” in FAFSA stands for “free”, meaning you should never be charged a fee to submit your FAFSA. Using one of the above options guarantees that you’ll not have to pay to complete your application.
Remember Oct. 1 – The FAFSA opens each year on Oct. 1. You should complete your FAFSA as soon as possible after this date. Some financial aid that you’re eligible to receive may be on a first-come first-serve basis, concluding that funds will be given to those who apply first and will eventually run out after a certain point. Therefore, to ensure that you don’t miss out on any financial aid, complete your application in a timely manner.
After completing your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you will receive an email with a link to your Student Aid Report (SAR). The SAR is a document that recaps the data you provided on the FAFSA and offers some basic information about your eligibility for federal financial aid. On this SAR, you may read that you’ve been selected for verification. Typically an asterisk appears next to the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) number near the upper right corner on the SAR, which indicates your information must be verified.
Verification is a process in which the school’s financial aid office must confirm the information provided on your FAFSA is accurate. About one-third of all students are selected for verification because questions may have been left blank, the data provided is inconsistent, or they’re just randomly chosen. If this happens, don’t worry. The financial aid office at the schools you’ve applied to will contact you and request additional documentation they’ll need to complete the verification process. Be sure to respond promptly and meet all deadlines set by financial aid personnel.
After you submit the requested materials to your school’s aid office, follow up with them to ensure it’s been received. Remember, you must complete the verification process in order to receive any federal or state student aid. If you have questions about the process, contact your school’s financial aid office.
How do I fix an error on my Student Aid Report?
Since most students file their FAFSAs electronically, it’s quick and easy to make your corrections online, as well. On the home page at FAFSA.gov, click ‘Log In’. If you’re making changes to your answers, click ‘I am the student’. If your parents are making a change to their answers, they should click ‘I am a parent’. Your parents can log in using your personally identifiable information, and they’ll also need your Save Key. Don’t let anyone else log in with your FSA ID!
Find the section where the correction(s) will be made. Make your changes, and don’t forget to click the ‘Submit’ button on the last page when you’re done. In a few days, another Student Aid Report (SAR) will be sent to your inbox. Review it once more to make sure your changes have been made.
If you aren’t able to make a change, notify the financial aid office at your college or university. A financial aid professional will need your Data Release Number (DRN)–a four-digit code found in the top half of your Student Air Report–to access your FAFSA. Don’t give anyone in the financial aid office your FSA ID.
If you encounter any problems while making corrections, call Federal Student Aid (FSA) at 1.800.433.3243.
Completing the FAFSA is just the first step in applying for financial aid. After your application has been processed, you’ll receive a Student Aid Report (SAR). The SAR is a summary of all the information you entered on the FAFSA form. Included in the report will be your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), a number that helps determine your financial aid eligibility. When you receive the SAR, review it and make any necessary changes. You can make changes by logging into FAFSA.gov, accessing your original FAFSA application, and correcting your information. Don’t forget to resign and submit! Once you’ve updated your FAFSA, your SAR will be sent to the schools that were listed on your application. If you’re selected for verification, schools will ask you to provide more documentation to confirm that you reported the correct information. Be sure to submit documents as soon as possible to the financial aid office.
Colleges and universities will eventually send you award letters, notifying you of the amount of financial aid they’re able to offer you. Most award letters will be sent electronically, while a few others might come in the mail. Ask your campuses or choice how their notifications will be sent. The award letters will also tell you the cost of attendance. Carefully review those letters and only accept the aid you need. Always accept free money first: grants and scholarships. If you need to take out a student loan, only accept the amount you need to cover the cost of attendance. Be sure to compare different schools’ award letters as well. Consider the financial aid packages and the campus environment to decide which would be the best fit for you.
Follow up with every campus you received an award letter from and let them know how much of the financial aid package you would like to accept. Check for deadlines! Each award letter will ask you to respond by a certain date or you could lose the aid offered. Remain in constant contact with the financial aid office to make sure you take all necessary steps to secure your financial aid award.
So you’ve completed, signed and submitted the FAFSA, now what? It’s time to follow up!
Keep an eye on your email for something called a Student Aid Report (SAR) as well as information from the schools to which you chose to send your FAFSA results.
Your SAR will provide you with some basic information about your eligibility for federal student aid. When you receive your SAR carefully review it and make sure your information is listed correctly. If you find a mistake, you will need to correct and resubmit your FAFSA.
Some schools may ask for more information, so be sure to provide any additional documentation they may require. Follow up with the school’s financial aid office if you have questions.
Perhaps you’ve had a change in circumstances since you submitted the FAFSA, or you’ve discovered that even with the help of FAFSA.gov’s built-in fact checker your FAFSA contains an error. Here are some of the most common pieces of information to be updated or corrected:
- Your marital status
- Your parents’ marital status
- The death of a parent or sibling
- Employment status
- Major medical expenses
- Social Security numbers
- Parents’/stepparents’ income
- Untaxed income
- Income taxes paid
- Household size
- Number of household members in college
- Real estate and investment net worth
So, what happens if you’ve made a mistake? If necessary, corrections to FAFSA data may be made by:
- Visiting FAFSA.gov and accessing your data with your FSA ID.
- Requesting changes through the financial aid office of the school you plan to attend. (you’ll need your Data Release Number, or DRN.)
- Submitting documentation to the college’s financial aid office.
If you used last year’s tax information as an estimate when filing the FAFSA, it is also required that you make the correction once you’ve filed 2015 taxes.
The Student Aid Report (SAR) is a paper or electronic document that gives you some basic information about your eligibility for federal student aid and lists your answers to the questions on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
After you complete your FAFSA, you should receive your SAR from Federal Student Aid. This document will be sent to the email address you supplied on your FAFSA, usually within a few days after you submit the FAFSA. If you haven’t seen it in your inbox by then, be sure to check your spam or junk mail folders. The schools you list on your FAFSA will receive your SAR data electronically and begin the process of outlining your award package, which will include the types and amounts of financial aid you’re eligible to receive.
The SAR contains all data reported on your FAFSA. Read your SAR carefully to make sure all of your information is correct. Most errors can be fixed through your FAFSA online at FAFSA.gov. If there is an error in a field you can’t access, call the Federal Student Aid hotline at 1.800.4 FED AID (1.800.433.3243), or send your question to FederalStudentAidCustomerService@ed.gov.
Your SAR will also tell you if your FAFSA has been selected for verification. If it has, you’ll be given instructions about what to do next. Supplying the information required for verification is mandatory. You can’t receive federal financial aid until the verification process is complete.
Reading your SAR lets you know what’s going on with your financial aid application before you visit a financial aid office. It can help you prepare for your visit by having any necessary documents with you when you arrive. This will save time and reduce the number of visits you’ll have to make to the financial aid office. That’s a win-win situation for everyone!