If you have questions about the FAFSA, contact the financial aid office at your Home Institution or call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1.800.4.FED.Aid (1.800.433.3243).

  • Use the right forms: You will need to file a FAFSA. You may also need to file separate institutional applications.

  • The early bird gets the worm: Submit your FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1. Remember the U.S. Department of Education must receive your FAFSA by March 10 of the year you are planning on attending college to maximize your financial aid opportunities. In case of technical difficulties with FAFSA on the Web, do not wait until the last minute to file online.

  • FAFSAs vs. 1040s: The FAFSA asks if you've completed your tax return, not if you've filed your tax return. You can complete your tax return on January 1 and wait to file until April 15. Don't delay filing the FAFSA because you don't have your taxes done or because you are waiting to file them on April 15.

  • Comparison between need analysis and IRS forms: The financial aid office at the institution processing your financial aid must verify data on up to 30 percent of all FAFSAs. If selected for verification, you must provide copies of tax forms and other documents to the financial aid office. Most FAFSAs are selected on "pre-established criteria," which means "something does not look right." Be accurate and honest in submitting your information.

  • Name, Social Security number, and date of birth: The Department of Education verifies every applicant's name, Social Security number, and date of birth. To minimize problems, use the name and number on your Social Security card. If you are married or divorced, make sure the name on your Social Security card matches the name on your FAFSA.

  • Record data accurately: The FAFSA wants to know the net worth of your assets—their current market value minus any debt against them. Also, the FAFSA asks for the total amount of federal income tax paid, not just the amount withheld on a W-2.

  • Don't make careless mistakes: Mistakes can be costly. At a minimum, they will cause a delay in the application process and, if not corrected in a timely manner, could eliminate you from state grant consideration.

  • Change in status: If your status changes after your submit your FAFSA, e.g., a disability, prolonged unemployment, divorce, or separation, notify the financial aid office immediately.