Want More College Money? Avoid These Costly FAFSA Mistakes

Fill Out FAFSA as Early as Possible For Best Results

If you’ll have one or more kids in college next fall—get your family first in line for financial aid money. 

You’ll do this by filling out the FAFSA financial aid form as close to October 1st as you possibly can.

You read that right—eleven months in advance.

Are you tempted to skip filling out FAFSA because you assume you make too much to qualify for aid for college? Quick—right now—read my article 7 Reasons to Fill Out FAFSA Even If You’re Rich. Then use the instructions below to get every penny of the college money your kids have coming.

Tell everyone you know—avoid these common FAFSA mistakes.

Today I’m featuring a list of 30+ mistakes that parents make when filling out the FAFSA form. These mistakes cost U.S. families millions in lost college financial aid money each year.

To make sure your kids get every penny they have coming to them, download and print my list of common FAFSA mistakes here: 30+ Common FAFSA Mistakes and How to Avoid Them. (This link won’t open on some phones. If that happens to you, please open it on your desktop computer.)

Share this post with everyone you know who cares about kids who’ll be in college next year, and then have the printout handy on your desk when you’re filling out your own FAFSA form.fafsa

You’ll get instant answers to questions such as: 

1. What two FAFSA mistakes must I avoid if I want to be considered for state aid?

2. Which of our family’s assets should we never reveal on a FAFSA form?

3. Why is it good to say that I’m “interested in loans,” even if I’d rather die than take one out?

4. I heard that on the question, “How much did your (father/mother/stepparent) earn from working in (previous year)?” I should try to put in the highest number I truthfully can. The highest number? Really? Why?

5. Who exactly qualifies as my kid’s “parent(s)” on the FAFSA form? What if we’re divorced and remarried?

6. I heard that it’s good to put down the highest household size I truthfully can. Who can I include when I do this? I heard that it might be more than just the people living at my house. Who can I legally include?

7. How can I quickly enter in my tax information without digging through drawers to find old tax returns?

8. I need to calculate the “current balance or market value of my investments.” How can I do that in such a way that it hurts my kid’s financial aid chances the least?

9. Our family owns a business. I heard that there are special financial aid rules that benefit us. What are those rules exactly?

10. I’ve been awarded stock options at work. Some have vested, and some have not. How do I calculate the value of my stock options in such a way that it hurts my kid’s financial aid chances the least?

11. The FAFSA form is asking me about “taxable portions of grants and scholarships.” Yikes. What is that? How do I calculate it?

12. I have to sign the form using a “FSA ID”? Where in the world do I get an “FSA ID”?

13. We have a complicated financial situation, and the FAFSA provides no room to explain anything. Where do I go to explain the rest of the story?

Get the answers to these and many other questions.

Download and print my list of common FAFSA mistakes here: 30+ Common FAFSA Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Share this list with parents, guidance counselors, financial planners, high school and college staff, and everyone else you know of who cares about kids who’ll be in college next year.

Have you heard?

Exciting FAFSA changes may apply to you in 2022–2023 and beyond. Be the first to learn about them when you subscribe here.

Remember, applying for financial aid is only a small part of the picture when it comes to getting your kid through college debt-free.

For clear, step-by-step help with the whole process from beginning to end, get your copy of my book:

It’s a reference book, so nobody reads the whole thing cover to cover. Pick out what you need to read in it using the fast-paced, 10-minute video instructions here.

You can see more than 100 reviews of it on Amazon at:


(Tell your friends.)

You can see why financial advising professionals love LAUNCHhere.

You can see the top 9 questions parents are asking me about LAUNCHhere.

Read just one chapter of LAUNCH every 1–3 months while your child’s in middle school and high school, and you’ll know every viable strategy for debt-free college at exactly the right time to implement it.

And if your child’s already well past middle school? That’s OK; you can run to catch up. But the process of getting your kids through college debt-free goes more smoothly the earlier you start it—especially if you’re not planning to save up any money to pay for college.

Take a step on this right now. Get regular, inspiring help from me—every Monday morning.

Subscribe to my free weekly email newsletter here.

Do you have specific questions for me about debt-free college and career for your kids?

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If you worry you’re late to college planning, this article will help you tremendously.

Do you have friends who are parenting kids ages 17–26?

SHARE this post on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn right now. Copy the link to this article and email it to people!

What about you?

What additional FAFSA mistakes do I need to add to my list? Comment below or LIKE Jeannie Burlowski Author on Facebook, find this post on that page, and let’s talk about it there.

Who is Jeannie Burlowski?

Jeannie is a full-time academic strategist, podcast host, and sought-after speaker for students ages 12–26, their parents, and the professionals who serve them. Her writing, speaking, and podcasting help parents set their kids up to graduate college debt-free and move directly into careers they excel at and love. Her work has been featured in publications such as The Huffington Post, USA Today, Parents Magazineand US News and World Report, and on CBS News.

Jeannie also helps students apply to law, medical, business, and grad school at her website GetIntoMedSchool.com. You can follow her on Twitter @JBurlowski.

This article was originally published on this blog on September 25th, 2017. It was updated on September 9th, 2021.