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Common Financial Aid Errors


 

What are the most common mistakes students make on the financial aid application?

I think we can all agree; higher education is expensive.  The cost of a four year degree is as much as the cost of a home in many areas.  Financial aid is intended to cover the gap between what a family can afford to pay and the total cost.  However, every year students fail to receive aid, often due to application errors.  Here are the most common errors to avoid:

1.  Failing to apply. 

Some families knowingly don’t apply under the mistaken belief that they make too much to receive aid.  Before you decide not to apply, you may want to determine the amount your family would be expected to pay before receiving aid.  There is no application fee to submit the FAFSA; it will cost you a little time.  You can also try some of the FAFSA estimators online.  If your family contribution far exceeds the cost of college, you won’t qualify for aid.  However, many families find they can qualify for aid.

2.  Failing to complete the application.

Some universities require a school specific forms or the CSS profile while others don’t.  Applying for the FAFSA doesn’t mean you have completed the financial aid process for each university.  Check the requirements and deadlines for each school. Some students complete the application but submit incomplete or incorrect information, thus delaying the process.

3.  Waiting too long to apply. 

Financial aid can be like going through a buffet – the people in the front of the line get their choice of the best offerings while those at the end may be left with table scraps.  Universities have a limited amount of grant and scholarship funding, so those who apply late are likely to receive only loans.

To ensure you receive the best possible offer, apply on time and make sure your application is complete and accurate.

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