Common Application Errors
Mistakes are easily made when filling out the FAFSA application if students and/or parents do not understand the instructions fully. Some errors will require an applicant to start over delaying the processing of your FAFSA at the federal level, and thus delaying the offer of financial aid process at the university level. The Office of Financial Aid has compiled a list of common errors made on the FAFSA to help eliminate common mistakes and make the FAFSA application experience as easy as possible.
Information about the Student
- Other people (besides the student who is applying for aid) may help fill out the FAFSA form; please keep in mind that the application is about the student. On this application, the words “you” and “your” always refer to the student. The word “college” means a college, university, graduate or professional school, community college, vocational or technical school, or any other institution beyond high school.
- It is important to use your proper name as it appears on your Social Security card.
- Confirm your Social Security Number is accurate. The processing center and Methodist University will use it as a key identifier in the application process. An error here can cause a substantial delay.
- If you are applying for financial aid at more than one institution, answer enrollment questions according to your plans for your first-choice college. Check the terms that you will be enrolled and the type of enrollment. Full time equals 12 hours or more (9 or more hours for Graduate or Professional Students); 3/4 time 9 – 11 hours; Half time 6 – 8 hours; less than half-time 1- 5 hours; and not enrolled equals 0 hours. Your enrollment requirements may differ with the type of aid that you are receiving.
- Answer the question honestly regarding the possession or selling of illegal drugs. 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 for more information. If you have questions, contact the federal processing center at (800) 433-3243.
Student Portion (Determining Dependency Status)
- If you answered “No” to all questions in this section, FAFSA on the Web will direct you to complete both student and parent information. You will be considered “Dependent” for Financial Aid purposes.
- When asked if you have a dependent, keep in mind that 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.” The student will still be a dependent of their parents.
- Undergraduate students cannot declare themselves independent of their parents due to family disagreement, living arrangements, because their parents no longer claim them as dependents on their tax return, or parents’ unwillingness to contribute to the costs of their education.
Student & Parent Income
- The preferred way to complete the income information is to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to transfer your tax return information directly on to your FAFSA. Some circumstances may prohibit you from utilizing the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.
- All income information must be completed. Put “0” for any line items that do not apply to you. If your parents have divorced or separated, 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
- Answer all questions about parent name, Social Security Number, and date of birth. If this information is blank or incorrect, your FAFSA will be rejected at the federal level.
- Marital status of parent refers to the status of the parent with whom you live. This means if your biological parents are divorced and you live with your mother (Parent 1) who has remarried, then mother’s status is “married.” Given this scenario, both the income for the mother (Parent 1) and stepfather (Parent 2) must be listed on the application.
- To find the correct amount of taxes paid, you must use the amount from the “IRS 1040 Income Tax Paid”. DO NOT USE THE ADJUSTED GROSS INCOME.
- If you or your parents received payments to tax-deferred pensions and savings plans (paid directly or withheld from earnings) as reported on the W-2 form, Box 12 with codes D, E, F, H or S, this is untaxed income. The untaxed income should be included on the FAFSA.
- Housing, food, and other living allowances paid to members of the military, clergy, and others are also considered untaxed income. DO NOT INCLUDE THE VALUE OF ON-BASE MILITARY HOUSING OR THE VALUE OF BASIC MILITARY ALLOWANCE FOR HOUSING
- Veterans non education benefits, such as Disability, death Pensions, or Dependency & Indemnity Compensation (DIC) and/or VA educational Work-study allowances are considered untaxed income and should be included on the FAFSA.
Household Size & Number in College
- If you did have to enter parent information and are considered “dependent” according to financial aid regulations, include only those who receive more than half their support from your parents, and are attending college in the upcoming academic year, in your parent’s household.
- List the name of the college any siblings or children under the age of 24 attending in the upcoming year. If a student’s parent is attending college, the parent will be listed as household member, but NOT as a household member in college. Count only the family members who will be enrolled at least half-time in a degree or certificate program that leads to a recognized education credential at an institution that is eligible to participate in Federal Student aid programs.
- Include in your household: yourself (and your spouse, if you have one), and 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.
- List the number of people in your household (spouse, siblings under the age of 24, or children) who will attend college in the upcoming academic year. Count only the family members who will be enrolled at least half-time in a degree or certificate program that leads to a recognized education credential at an institution that is eligible to participate in Federal Student aid programs.
Releases & Signatures
- Methodist University’s Federal School Code is 002946. Regardless of how you list the university’s name, we will receive your information if the code is correct. If the code is incorrect, the information will then go to another school. If you do not list our code, we cannot process financial aid for you.
- It is imperative that the student and, if the student is dependent, one of the student’s parents sign the FAFSA on the Web electronically using the FSA-ID, which can be obtained from the U.S. Department of Education through their website (studentaid.gov). Both student and parent should obtain a FSA-ID. If you do not have a FSA-ID, you may request one from (studentaid.gov).
- If the FSA-ID is not entered, or the Signature Page is not received, 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 out your browser until you reach the page with your confirmation number. Otherwise your application will not be transmitted and processed.
The Student / Parents FSA ID confirms identity when accessing financial aid information and electronically signing Federal Student Aid documents. If you do not already have an FSA ID, you can create one at studentaid.gov.