Though students are able to correct their FAFSAs, this delays processing, as two to three extra weeks are tacked on due to the erroneous initial form. Many simple mistakes can be avoided by carefully reading the instructions and questions, and the Federal Student Aid information Center is one resource that can help troubleshoot questions and difficulties.
To give an idea of the most common mistakes, here are a few:
- Answers to questions focusing on Adjusted Gross Income, total income tax, Social Security number, marital status, and worksheets
- Leaving an answer blank as opposed to writing in a “0”
- Income earned from work
Many websites providing information on financial aid empathize with the student whose parents don’t help with FAFSAs, and support legal reforms and changes that shift the focus of the form from parents to students. However, there are not many options for students who face requesting aid without help from their caregivers.
The current federal aid system is structured around the family unit as the main provider for higher education costs. The program provides assistance to whatever extent the student has shown their family fiscally unable to cover all their expenses. However, students whose parents choose not to help or provide the necessary information have no tangible help from the government.
Though the resources are not ample, the government has provided a page of information and options for students who are in special circumstances. The Higher Education Act allows certain dependency overrides on a case-by-case basis, which allows students to submit their FAFSA without parental information. However, that student’s EFC (expected family contribution) cannot be calculated until an administrator approves the circumstances and follows through with a dependency override.
Students who are homeless or in dire financial situations can receive extra help in receiving an override, but again, it’s on a case-by-case basis, however, it is recommended that their status be verified by one of two organizations, which can be found here.
Unfortunately, students whose family refuses support are ineligible for a dependency override, making it almost impossible to fill out FAFSA without parents. However, these students can receive aid in the form of unsubsidized Stafford loans only.
Additionally, in order to apply for a PIN, the student or parent must have a valid Social Security number, or will not be able to obtain a PIN.