Common Application Errors
Many mistakes made during the completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) occur because students and/or parents do not fully understand the application instructions. While few errors will require you to start all over, most errors can delay the processing of your FAFSA at the federal level, your award at the university level, or both. If you complete the FAFSA online, automatic error checks are run that are not available on the paper form. Therefore, we highly recommend that you complete your FAFSA on-line at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/.
We have compiled a list of common errors made on the FAFSA to help you through the process. Select the section of the FAFSA that you are reviewing to see what can cause common problems:
Info About the Student
- Although other people (besides the student who is applying for aid) may help fill out this form, it is about the student. On this form, the words "you" and "your" always mean the student. The word "college" means a college, university, graduate or professional school, community college, vocational or technical school, or any other school beyond high school.
- It is important that you use your proper name as it appears on your Social Security card.
- Be sure your Social Security Number is accurate when entering it online. The processing center and UVA use this number as a key in the application process. An error here can cause a substantial delay.
- If you are applying for financial aid at more than one school, answer enrollment questions according to your plans for your first-choice college.
- Make sure the question regarding the possession or selling of illegal drugs is answered honestly. FAFSA on the Web will not let you continue with the application process until this question is answered. Having a conviction may or may not hamper your ability to receive federal aid. Visit the Drug Question Worksheet website and http://studentaid.ed.gov/eligibility/criminal-convictions for more information. If you have questions, contact the federal processing center 1-800-433-3243.
- If you answered "No" to all questions in the Dependency Determination section, FAFSA on the Web will direct you to complete both student and parent information. You will be considered "Dependent" for Financial Aid purposes.
- A dependent is a person for whom you (the student) provide and will continue to provide more than half of his/her total support. If a student has a child and that child is being supported by the student’s parents or someone else, then the student does not have a "dependent."
- You are a Veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces only if you have engaged in active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard) or as a member of the National Guard or Reserves who was called to active duty for purposes other than training, or were a cadet or midshipman at one of service academies AND were released under a condition other than dishonorable.
- We recommend that you complete your FAFSA as soon as possible after October 2016.
- Please note that if the student and parent both file a tax return, the student cannot be claimed as an exemption on both returns.
- If you or your parents contributed to tax-deferred pensions and savings plans (paid directly or withheld from earnings), contributions should be reported in the Untaxed Income section of the FAFSA. Such contributions arefound on the W-2 form, Box 12a through 12d, codes D,E,F,G,H and S only (do not include code DD). Housing, food, and other living allowances paid to members of the military, clergy, and others are also considered untaxed income.
Household Size and Number in College
- List the number of people in your parent(s)' household including yourself who will attend college between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018. Do not include your parents. Count only the members who will attend at least half-time in a degree or certificate program that leads to a recognized education credential at a college that is eligible to participate in Federal Student Aid programs.
- Independent students, include in your household: yourself, your spouse if you have one, your children if you provide more than half of their support, and other people if they now live with you, and you provide more than half of their support and will continue to provide more than half of their support from July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2018.
- Also if independent, list the number of people in your household who will attend college between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018. Count only the members who will attend at least half-time in a degree or certificate program that leads to a recognized education credential at a college that is eligible to participate in Federal Student aid programs.
Releases and Signatures
- The University of Virginia’s Title IV Code is 003745. For the processing center this is as important as your social security number. Regardless of how you list our name, we will receive your information if the code is correct. If the code is incorrect, the information will then go to another school and NOT to U.Va. If you do not list our code, we cannot process any financial aid for you.
- It is imperative that the student sign the FAFSA on the Web electronically using a Federal Student Aid FSA ID, which can be obtained from the U.S. Department of Education at fsaid.ed.gov. Both student and parent must obtain an FSA ID. If you do not have an FSA ID, you may print and mail the Signature Page from the website. If the FSA ID is not entered, or the Signature Page is not mailed, this can cause a rejection of your application and it cannot be processed until the signature is received. This can cause serious delays in the receipt of your aid. DO NOT close your browser until you reach the page with your confirmation number. Otherwise your application will not be transmitted and processed. We recommend that you print your Confirmation Page for your records.