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5 mistakes to avoid when completing the FAFSA

Melody Hahm
Senior Writer

Applications for free student aid (FAFSA) open up this Sunday, October 1. And while deadlines vary (depending on state and college), it’s in your best interest to complete the FAFSA as soon as possible.

Kelly Peeler, founder and CEO of NextGenVest, a startup that helps students apply for financial aid and student loans over text message, shared five common mistakes students and parents make when it comes to submitting the FAFSA.

Don’t make these mistakes!

  1. Completing the FAFSA too late. Families have a higher probability of negotiating their financial aid packages if they submit FAFSAs earlier. Families should submit their FAFSA right after the October 1 release date. Don’t delay it!
  2. Assuming that you make too much money to fill out the FAFSA: As of 2016, $2.7 billion in free federal aid went unclaimed because qualifying families did not submit the FAFSA. Many families assume they make too much money and don’t apply.
  3. Failing to submit the FAFSA just because you lost your password to your FSA ID. Many families end up giving up on the FAFSA because they lose their passwords. It can take up to three days to reset a new password, but make sure you do.
  4. Not checking “interested in work study” on your application. Students should check this box because it allows them on-campus work opportunities with tax benefits as a subsidy for college costs. Many don’t know what the term means so they ignore it, but it’s great supplementary income if you can manage it.
  5. Assuming you’re an “independent.” Even if you pay your own bills, file your own taxes and even live by yourself, you may still fall into the category of a dependent student and must provide your parents’ financial information.

If you’re looking for step-by-step assistance, take advantage of free resources like NextGenVest and FRANK, an online platform that eliminates layers of bureaucracy and saves you time. Within the past six months, 120,000 students have used FRANK to access $3.5 billion dollars in free federal aid.

Melody Hahm is a writer at Yahoo Finance, covering entrepreneurship, technology and real estate. Follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm.

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