The FAFSA and Profile are both complex documents, and even with online help along the way, it's inevitably the some errors may occur as you complete the documents. While few errors will require you to start all over, many errors will delay the processing of your FAFSA at the federal level, our review at UVA, or both. For a variety of reasons, we highly recommend that you complete your FAFSA online instead of in paper form. A Spanish-language version of the FAFSA is also available online.
Below is a list of common errors made on the FAFSA to help you through the process. It's a lot! But we think it's important that you understand how the FAFSA submission process works in some detail and that you have a ready reference while you are filling it out.
- Remember that whomever completes the form, the information primarily refers to the student, so 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.
- Use your proper name as it appears on your Social Security card.
- Be sure to enter your Social Security Number accurately. The processing center and UVA both use this number as a key in the application process. An error here can cause a substantial delay, and we see it every year!
- If you are applying for financial aid at more than one school, answer enrollment questions according to your plans for your first-choice college.
- If you answered "No" to all questions in the Dependency Determination section, FAFSA will direct you to complete both student and parent information. You are 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 the service academies AND were released under a condition other than dishonorable.
- Be sure on line 55 of the FAFSA to answer the question correctly. Many students in legal custody mistakenly say that they are in a legal guardianship, thereby causing delays in processing their financial aid. Refer to the FAFSA instructions on this topic to make sure you answer appropriately for your situation.
- We recommend that you complete your FAFSA as soon as possible after it becomes available.
- Please note that if the student and parent both file a tax return, the student cannot be claimed as an exemption on both returns.
- For those who complete the FAFSA before filing taxes for the relevant tax year: after you have completed your tax return, we recommend you wait at least 10 days before you update your FAFSA. When you update your tax status in the FAFSA to “Already Completed” you will be prompted with several questions to see if you are eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. This will allow you to transfer your tax information directly from the IRS website to your FAFSA. If you do this and do not alter any of the information, this can be used to verify your tax information if you have been selected for verification by the U.S. Department of Education.
- If your legal parents are married to each other, or are not married to each other and live together, answer the questions for both parents. If your parents have divorced or separated and do not live together, provide information about the parent you lived with most during the past 12 months. If you did not live with one parent more than the other, answer in terms of the parent who provided the most financial support during the last 12 months or during the most recent year that you were actually supported by the parent.
- Do not leave the questions about parent name, Social Security Number, and date of birth blank! If this information is blank or incorrect, your FAFSA will be rejected and cannot be processed.
- For the FAFSA, in cases of divorced or separated parents, marital status of the parent refers to the marital status of the parent who contributed the most financial support for the previous 12-month period. If that parent has remarried both the biologic parent and their spouse's income must be listed on the application.
- 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 are found 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.
- The University of Virginia’s FAFSA school 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 UVA. If you do not list our code, we cannot process any financial aid for you until you list UVA as a recipient school for your FAFSA.
- It is crucial that the student and, if the student is dependent, one of the student's parents sign the FAFSA on the Web electronically using a Federal Student Aid FSA ID, which you can get from the U.S. Department of Education at StudentAid.gov. Both the 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 significant delays in processing 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.