Your clients have clicked submit on their FAFSA! Congratulations for completing this sometimes onerous task. But wait…they’re not done yet?! Sometimes changes happen that need correction. What if a student gets married or pregnant? What if a student is applying to more than 10 colleges? They shouldn’t worry. Making changes to the FAFSA is not terribly difficult.
What happens after submitting the FAFSA?
The FAFSA will be in process after it is submitted. The information is provided to the colleges listed on the application. The information is also given to any necessary state agencies for aid determination. The student will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) anywhere from 3 days to 3 weeks after submission. Your clients should carefully review the SAR to make sure the information is correct.
Sometimes, a student will receive a request to have their information verified. Don’t panic. Not a big deal. Click here to read about the verification process.
The FAFSA is a snapshot in time.
The FAFSA wants to know the student and parent information effective the day they sign the application. They don’t care about the bank balance yesterday or the bank balance tomorrow. They want to know the balance today.
Certain changes after that point in time need to be reported to FAFSA. Instances when a student will need to make corrections to the FAFSA:
- A mistake was made
- An incorrect social security number was given
- Or a situation changed
What kind of change in situation are we talking about?
We’re not talking about a student who spends all the money in their savings account. FAFSA does not want to know about that.
Your clients will need to make corrections if the email or mailing address or other contact information changes.
If the student gets pregnant or their legal guardianship changes, the FAFSA will need to be changed because of the student’s change in dependency status.
If the student gets married, they need to contact the college’s financial aid office to see if they can make changes to their status. The student will also need to contact the financial aid office if their parent’s income or circumstances change significantly during the current year.
If a verification has been requested, there are other circumstance changes that can be corrected on the FAFSA including a change to the number of family members in the household or the number of college students in the household.
How do you make corrections?
The easiest way for your clients to make changes to mistakes is online. They can visit www.fafsa.ed.gov, log in, and visit My FAFSA and click “Make FAFSA Corrections.” These changes cannot be made until after the application has been processed. An alternative to online changes is marking changes to the SAR form and submitting it to the address on the form or your clients can contact the college and asking them for assistance making corrections.
If the student or parent used an incorrect social security number, the easiest way to fix it is to submit a brand new FAFSA application. Another alternative would be to contact the financial aid office at the college and have them correct the SSN on the SAR. A final option is to mark the SAR and send it to the address given for correction. This last method is the slowest.
An important note: If your client used the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to import student or parental tax figures into the FAFSA, those numbers cannot be changed. If your client filed an amended return (1040X), they should contact the college’s financial aid office.
What about the student applying to a long list of colleges?
In today’s world of online college applications, student’s are not limited to submitting applications to 1, 2, or 3 colleges. Today’s students can submit to 20, 30, or 40. (Please do NOT submit to 30 or 40 schools!)
The FAFSA form has space for 10 colleges to receive the information. If your client’s student has more than 10, have them list the favorite 10 first (maybe the ones with the earliest financial aid deadlines?), and then submit it.
After the SAR is received, go back into the FAFSA as a returning user, delete the original 10, and add up to 10 more. If the financial information is updated at that point (remember the snapshot in time?), the first 10 schools that have already received the information will not be notified of changes.
Making changes to the FAFSA does not need to be difficult. Your clients should pay attention to the details, and follow the necessary steps in the process. Remember the college’s financial aid office has probably heard every possible question. They should reach out to them when in doubt.