Correcting the FAFSA
The FAFSA is a major requirement for those who are seeking for financial help to complete their education. However, filling the FAFSA form is a lengthy process and it can often lead to errors.
Hence, applicants are always willing to know, if they can make changes to the FAFSA.
It is important to know that one cannot make changes to the data elements that have occurred since the day the FAFSA Was filed.
For example- The stocks helped by an applicant have lost 50 percent of their value since the FAFSA was filled, but these values can’t be changed, and the value on the date of filing the FAFSA will be considered.
So, it is evident that the corrections are allowed, but the values should be accurate as per the date the FAFSA was filed.
Similarly, if the figures are wrongly presented by an applicant, like $21,000 is reported as $12,000, the applicant can make necessary changes.
The applicant is also allowed to update the email address, make necessary changes to the mailing address. However, applicants must note- For making changes to the email, mailing address and the FSA ID, applicant’s will require an identity confirmation with the Social Security Number.
Applicants or parents, whose information was corrected or updated must sign the FAFSA after making the required changes.
While making corrections to the FAFSA, applicants must use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, because it ensures that no further verification is required. The tool is preferred, as the use of any other means would lead to verification. The applicant, or his/her parents will have to provide documentary proof for the information presented in the FAFSA.
How long will it take to process the corrections?
The corrections can take 3-5 days when processed online, and the applicants can receive the new SAR report only after the correction is done. If an applicant wants to make further corrections, then he/she has to wait for the newly corrected SAR.
Updating an information is different from corrections- An Update is all about adding the recent information, whereas correction is all about making changes to the errors.
Applicants must note that, information related to assets cannot be updated, but you can always correct the asset related information.
The following information can be updated-
- Your dependency status must be updated on the FAFSA. For example- A student who was dependent on his/her parents at the time of filing the FAFSA, then he/she has lost his/her parents recently, has to update his/her status of a dependent student to an independent student.
- Your household size is another key requirement of the FAFSA, So, if any changes are made to the household size, then it must be updated before the verification is due. In most cases, the household size is updated when the applicant gets married after filing the FAFSA.
- Applicants are required to update any changes to the amount of $25 or more, at the time of verification.
However, a changes to an amount less than $25 does not require to be updated, as they do not significantly change the eligibility.
Discrepancies of $50,000 can significantly alter the eligibility for need based aid. So, they must be updated before verification.
What happens when there is a mismatch of information?
If there is a mismatch between the information presented in the FAFSA and the information available to the colleges an applicant is planning to apply, then this can lead to discrepancies and the financial aid might get delayed.
The financial aid administer is in charge of the entire proceedings, and he/she can only disburse the financial aid after the discrepancy is resolved and the verification is completed.
Following are the most common discrepancies-
- The spouse of an independent student, or parents of a dependent student, suggest on the FAFSA that they are not required to file a federal income tax return, but it is found that their earned income mentioned on the FAFSA exceeds the IRS filing thresholds.
- As per the federal income tax return, the applicant or his/her parents earned income from interest or dividend, but they were not reported on the FAFSA, or the reported income is not consistent.
- Both the parents of the student filed federal income tax returns as head of family.
- The parents of the applicant are divorced, and the custodial parent is remarried, yet no support for the applicant is mentioned on the FAFSA.
- The permanent address of the applicant does not match with his/her custodial parent’s address mentioned in the federal income tax return.
In case, the student, the parents of the dependent applicant, or the spouse of an independent applicant does not agree to provide the documents required by the authorities providing financial aid, to resolve the discrepancies, then the applicant will find it hard to get the financial aid.
Other lessons on FAFSA