FAFSA application mistakes and how to avoid them
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Every year millions of families complete the FAFSA application to get college financial aid.
However, many people make mistakes that could end up costing them.
College Financial Expert Ron Caruthers, joined Good Morning San Diego to discuss some of those mistakes and how to avoid them.
Here are Caruthers’ 5 biggest FAFSA mistakes that over 80% of parents unknowingly make and how to avoid them:
1. Not filing at all, because you
assume you make too much money or you’re not sure if your student wants to go to college. The government estimates that 47% (that’s over 2 million!) students that would receive a PELL Grant, which is up to $6,000 to offset housing expenses, don’t bother filing. These same students would likely receive free Community College and free or reduced tuition at most CA public schools.
2. Filing late, which in California can cost you free tuition at a UC or CSU if you make up to $118,500 adjusted gross income….and 40% off if you make less than $171,500. But late is after March 2nd of next year, not right now like many wrongly believe.
3. ***Including the wrong ‘investment’s: Your house, your retirement accounts AND your business value are NOT supposed to be included under ‘investements’….in fact, they’re not supposed to be included at all….and almost 80% of the parents DO include them…..making ineligible ore eligible for substantially less money.
4. Using the IRS’ Data Retrieval Tool inside the FAFSA (yes, this is a mistake) IF you are separated or changed jobs, even though this is what the FAFSA recommends. The reason is that by ‘following the directions’ in both of the these cases causes your income to artificially be inflated, which can cost you free money grants.
5. Not appealing (explaining) to the school if there has been a change in circumstances, like: loss of a job, divorce, one time bonus, illness…..all these things should be explained to the financial aid office and usually will result in a family receiving more financial aid….meaning free money, not loans.