Top Five FAFSA Tips

Follow these tips when completing your FAFSA for a smoother aid process and additional funding opportunities.

1. Apply early.

You can now submit your 2014-2015 FAFSA online. To ensure that you are considered for the maximum number of aid opportunities, the Office of Student Aid recommends that you submit your FAFSA by the following deadlines:

  • New Students for Fall 2014: March 1
  • Returning Students: April 15

State grants and outside scholarships may have different FAFSA submission deadlines.

2. Use the correct FAFSA.

If you start your FAFSA between January and June, you may be prompted to choose between the FAFSA for this academic year or the next. For the next academic year, which begins fall 2014, be sure to use the 2014-2015 FAFSA.

3. Be meticulous.

If you make a mistake when completing your FAFSA, you may be asked to clarify the information through a process called verification. You will always receive the aid that correctly corresponds with your eligibility, but completing the FAFSA correctly the first time will help you avoid delays. Most mistakes can be avoided by following these tips:

  • Read the instructions provided at the beginning and throughout
  • Double check every answer field
  • Do not leave blanks
  • Contact the Office of Student Aid if you have questions

4. Use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.

When you reach the Financial Information section of the FAFSA, it may ask if you would like to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. This function allows you to import your tax information directly into the FAFSA. It makes completing the FAFSA faster and easier, and helps to reduce errors.

After you submit your taxes, there is a several-week processing delay before you can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. For this reason, it is a good idea to file your taxes as soon as possible.

5. Use your full legal name.

Failing to enter your full legal name is the most common mistake when submitting the FAFSA. On the Student Demographics page of the FAFSA, you must enter your name as it appears on your current Social Security card. Be careful: the FAFSA pre-populates your first and last name from your login; however, the field for middle initial is left blank. If a middle name or initial appears on your Social Security card, you must enter it on the FAFSA. If you have a suffix, be sure to include this on the same space as your last name.

Questions?

Please contact the Office of Student Aid for World Campus and Continuing Education at 814-867-4244 or studentaid@outreach.psu.edu.

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