Want More College Money? Avoid These Costly FAFSA Mistakes

FAFSA Is Live as of October 1st

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.

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 mistakes

You’ll get instant answers to questions such as: 

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Divorced? Perhaps Do This by Sept 30 and Save a Bundle on College

Are you divorced from your child’s other parent?

If so, there are specialized strategies you can use to reduce your kids’ future college costs.

Here’s just one.divorced

1. Figure out which of your child’s parents has the lower household income.

Is it you, or is it your ex-spouse? (Be sure to include the income of any new spouses when you calculate this income amount.)

2. Ask yourself, “Could my daughter possibly go to live with her lower-income parent, starting on September 30th of her 11th grade year?”

Think, would it be safe and healthy for your daughter to sleep 183 nights (or more) at her lower-income parent’s house between September 30th of her 11th grade year and September 30th of her 12th grade year?

Could she keep up this living arrangement until she goes away to college?

There are dramatic financial aid benefits for divorced parents who do this.

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Which Colleges Are Still Taking Applications?

5 Cautions For You If Your Child is Headed to College in 1-3 Months

Ben and his parents sat up late at their dining room table, combing through all of Ben’s college financial aid numbers one more time. Ben’s dad ran his fingers nervously through his hair. The problem? It was already summer, and every college that had accepted Ben for the coming fall was requiring him to commit to loads of student loan debt in order to attend.

Colleges are still taking applications

“Is it too late to just try to go to a different college?” Ben asked. “I don’t know,” Ben’s dad said. “Are there any other colleges still taking applications?”

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Urgent Financial Aid Info For Parents

Includes a Warning for Anyone Who's Filled Out a FAFSA Form Since 2011

Will your child will be headed to college (or technical school) in the fall of 2017? If so, I have important financial aid information for you.

financial aid

1. If you haven’t done so already, it’s important that you fill out the FAFSA financial aid form right now.

You can make $200,000 and still qualify for help paying for college, but you need to apply now.

2. An important tool that the government provides to help you fill out the FAFSA form is currently off-line.

For the past five years, the federal government has provided a nifty tool designed to help parents fill out the FAFSA form faster and more accurately. It’s called the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT for short). This tool allows those filling out the FAFSA form to click once and have all necessary financial information transferred from their tax returns to the appropriate spot on the FAFSA form — automatically.

Unfortunately, the IRS Data Retrieval Tool has been pulled off-line and will be unavailable for use until (we are told) October 1, 2017.

If you find an article online that says that the DRT will be back “in a couple of weeks,” that is outdated information. The current word is that it’ll be back on October 1, 2017.

3. This means that if you haven’t yet completed the FAFSA for your child who’ll be in college in the fall of 2017, you’ll have to enter your tax info in manually.

It’ll be a little more tedious, but please do it. Doing so now could save your child thousands of dollars in future college costs.

4. You’ll need your 2015 tax information in front of you when you do this. Here’s how to find that information:

A. You may have a printed copy of this tax information in your own personal files.

B. You may be able to get this information from the tax professional who filed your 2015 taxes for you, or from the tax software you used to prepare your 2015 taxes yourself.

C. You can view and download a summary of your 2015 tax form (properly called “a transcript”) at www.irs.gov/transcript. Just click on “Get Transcript Online.”

D. You can have the 2015 tax information you need mailed to you. Request it by going to www.irs.gov/transcript and clicking on “Get Transcript by Mail.”

D. You can also request that your 2015 tax information be mailed to you by calling the IRS during business hours at 1-800-908-9946.

5. Understand why the IRS Data Retrieval Tool was taken off-line.

According to NerdWallet and the New York Times, “The IRS…decided to temporarily suspend the Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) as a precautionary step following concerns that information from the tool could potentially be misused by identity thieves.”

6. If you have a child who is currently 19-24 years of age, and you filled out a FAFSA form for him or her in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, or 2016, you need to know this:

According to what the Department of Education and the IRS are telling us, there is a small chance that you may be the victim of tax-related identity theft.

According to the IRS:

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Ordinary Students—Extraordinary Financial Aid

You’d love for your son to get loads of free money financial aid to help him pay for college, but you’re pretty sure he won’t qualify for much. Your family lives comfortably, after all. You aren’t poor.

You wonder if filling out financial aid forms is even worth your time.

Seven Reasons Filling Out Financial Aid Forms Is Well Worth Your Time.

1. You can have a high income and still qualify for help.

You make over $200,000 per year and have significant assets? Your kid can still get free “gift aid” money to help pay for college. I’m talking about free money that need never be paid back.

Because this is true, plan to fill out the FAFSA form every October 1st that you’ll have a kid in college the following fall. Put this October date on your calendar now, so you can put your kid(s) first in line for all the financial aid money they have coming.

financial aid

Subscribe to “email updates” on this site, and I’ll email you special strategies for getting the most possible money out of the FAFSA form, right when you need them.

2. The FAFSA isn’t just about getting PELL grants. 

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Buy LAUNCH Before 1/11/17 — Get Bonuses Worth $248

Today I’m announcing the extra bonuses your family will receive if you purchase LAUNCH by January 11, 2017.

LAUNCH

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URGENT Financial Aid Info For Parents of 10th Graders

Parents of Younger Kids, Read This So You Can Plan Ahead

Today I have urgent financial aid info for parents of 10th graders.

You need to know that on January 1, 2017, a team of photographers is going to show up at your house.

Not actual photographers, but that’s a good way to think of it.

Parents, they're about to take a photo of you.

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Parents of Seniors: 5 Things to Do With That Student Aid Report (SAR)

About 2-3 weeks after you fill out the FAFSA financial aid form for your college-bound high school senior or current college student, you’ll receive a Student Aid Report (SAR). One of the things this Student Aid Report will tell you is how much it is believed that your family can afford to pay for college. (Look for the line that says: “Estimated Family Contribution (EFC).”

student aid report

If you find yourself laughing or crying at how high this number is, you’re not alone. Millions of families feel shocked and stunned at the high Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) listed on their child’s student aid report.

My reassuring words to you? Don’t worry too much about this right now. If you’re following me, you’re going to have many strategies you can use during the next year to bring these college costs way down.

For now, here are five things to know about your child’s Student Aid Report.

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5 Places to Get Help With College Financial Aid Forms

Are you filling out financial aid forms for a kid who’ll be in college next fall? Great. The fall before he or she enters college is the perfect time to do that.

But what do you do if you get stuck? Where do you go to get help with college financial aid forms?

help with college financial aid

Here are five places to get help with college financial aid forms.

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3 Ways KIDS Can Get More Financial Aid For College

Part 2 of a 2-Part Series

Is your child a senior in high school, or older? This post is part 2 of a 2-part series on what to do each September to make sure the FAFSA form you fill out in early October will get your child maximum financial aid for college. To read part 1 of this very important series, click here.

You’d love to help your kid get maximum financial aid to help pay for college.

Why? Because financial aid is free money that need never be paid back.

The great news? You can get a lot of financial aid help – even if you have a relatively high income. This 2-part series will help.

FAFSA

Get your child all the free money he or she has coming.

To be sure your child gets all the free money he or she has coming, you as a parent will need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) every October that you’ll have a child in college the following fall. Fill this form out every October, even if you’re convinced “you won’t get anything.”

Every family of a 12th grader should fill out the FAFSA. Here’s why.

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