Have you filled out your FAFSA?

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“According to reports gathered from the Department of Education, 47% of people who don’t fill out the FAFSA would have received would have received some kind of aid if they had”.

February 15, 2022 is the priority deadline to submit the FAFSA in Connecticut.

Report has it that about 68% of families with college-age fill out the FAFSA in attempt to become eligible for financial aid. According to the College planning experts, that number should be much higher.

Fewer students have been filling out the FAFSA ever since the pandemic started in 2019.

According to reports gathered from 5 on Your Side when she talked Eva Steffel with Gold Star College Planning about some of the things everyone needs to know when it comes to filling out the FAFSA.

She said, “the most important thing is to fill it out!”

“There are thousands of families who just don’t fill it out and a lot of times they just assume ‘Oh, you know we’re not going to qualify anyway.’ Well, according to the Department of Education, 47% of people who don’t fill out the FAFSA would have received some kind of aid if they had.”

Steffel gave some tips on making the process much easier. She said not to report your retirement assets and home equity on the FAFSA. It doesn’t tell you on the form which assets to report, and this part becomes especially tough for students filling the form out on their own.

Steffel said people have no idea that thousands of dollars could be riding on this one question. The form just says to fill in information on “parent assets.” 

It’s important for students to remember the FAFSA has to be filled out each year they’re enrolled in college or they could risk losing access to federal loans and scholarships.

Steffel said if students are filling out the FAFSA without a parent’s help, they can also use Google which is a great resource tool. Look up any questions you have about what to include and reach out to the financial aid office of your college with any further questions.

Another common mistake comes from incorrectly reporting the household income for parents who are divorced and separated. You should only report the income of one household on the FAFSA.

If parents own a business with less than 100 employees, don’t report that.

Steffel pointed out a common way household income totals are messed up on the FAFSA, a mistake that could cost thousands of dollars in the long run.

The FAFSA has a Data Retrieval System that provides the option to “auto-fill” your family’s financial information based on the data on file with the IRS. But Steffel advises not to do that, especially if you’ve had a rollover.

She further explained, “We just encourage people to punch it in themselves. It might take you an extra 10 minutes but it’s worth it just not to have that mistake happen. Because otherwise, even if you do catch it, you have to go back to every single school and let them know what happened and appeal to get more money so it’s just a lot of work.”

Tuesday is the primary deadline to submit your FAFSA in Connecticut.

The most important thing is filling out the FAFSA as early as possible, that way you have the best chance at getting money before it runs out.

You can go back and make corrections after you submit the FAFSA for the initial deadline.