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FAFSA Tips

"You" and "your" always refer to the student who is completing the FAFSA.

Use the name that appears on the student's Social Security card. Do not use nicknames.

Read the FAFSA instructions before filling out the form and follow the instructions exactly.

If you already filed your federal taxes and you are filing the FAFSA online, you may be able to pull your tax data into the FAFSA by choosing to use the IRS data retrieval process option on the FAFSA.

For the paper FAFSA, print clearly in CAPITAL letters and skip a box between words. Fill in ovals completely. Do not use an "X" or checkmark. For errors, use white-out or erase completely. (The paper application is read electronically. Smudgy or scratched out answers could be misread).

Check that the Social Security number and birth date are correct.

List the student's full permanent mailing address.

Answer all questions that require a dollar figure with a number. If your answer to an income or asset question is zero, write the number "0". Do not use NA, not applicable or a dash. Only skip an item if the instructions specifically state that you should.

Do not leave income information blank if you have not yet prepared your tax return. You may estimate tax information, although it is recommended that you use actual tax data if possible for more accurate reporting. If you do estimate, you must correct the FAFSA later to reflect actual tax information.

Do not report cents - round dollar figures to the nearest whole dollar. (e.g. report $45,150.65 as 45,151.)

Use annual, not monthly amounts for requested earnings and benefits information.

Do not report the amount of federal income tax withheld from paychecks, self-employment taxes or state taxes. The correct answer is the amount of tax paid as reported on the line of the tax return used. If you are estimating income information because the tax return is not yet prepared, estimate the tax to be paid.

Report only net worth (value minus debt) of real estate, investments and assets.

On the paper FAFSA, do not make notes in the margins or outside the answer boxes or spaces. If you feel an answer needs to be clarified, contact the Financial Aid Office for instructions.

If filing the paper FAFSA, make sure the required signatures are on it. FAFSA online allows both the student and parent to "sign" electronically with a PIN that you can secure by applying at www.pin.ed.gov. If the parent does not have a PIN, a signature page will need to be printed out and mailed in to the processor.

Do not send tax forms, letters or other correspondence with the FAFSA. They will not be read and will be discarded.

Mail the paper FAFSA to the processor in the envelope provided.

Make copies of the FAFSA to keep for your records. Also, make copies of all federal income tax returns you submitted to the IRS. You may be required to submit a tax return transcript to the school.

Filing deadline to be considered for university need-based scholarships and campus-based aid (Perkins Loan and SEOG Grant) is March 1.