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Laptop screen with FAFSA website displayed. On-Screen Text: FAFSA Do's and Don'ts

The Do’s and Don’ts of Filling Out the FAFSA

If you are getting ready to apply, have applied, or have already been accepted to college, you have probably thought about how to pay for college. Filling out the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step. Follow these do’s and don’ts of filling out the FAFSA to make the process less daunting.

While the process can seem scary, it’s important to remember that an investment in your education is an investment in your future. Take a breath and remember that you are not alone on this journey.

What to Do for the FAFSA

Do Get Your FSA ID

Before you can begin your FAFSA application, both you and your guardian will need to get a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID. You can get this at any time, and since it takes an average of three days to receive, it’s best to complete this as soon as you can, so you aren’t delayed when the FAFSA opens.

Do Apply Early

The sooner you can begin filling out the FAFSA, the better. Colleges vary in their deadlines but filling out the FAFSA as soon as possible gives you a better chance of receiving state aid. And don’t forget the deadline to complete your FAFSA is June 30.

Do Select Your Top Colleges

You can add up to ten colleges when you fill out the FAFSA. When you add colleges to this section, your FAFSA information is automatically sent over so college representatives can begin to look at your financial need and create your financial aid package.

Each college or university will have a unique code. For example, the code for University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis is 002504.

Do Ask for Help

Talk to your recruiter about filling out the FAFSA. If you have a complicated situation, you can always reach out to the Office of Financial Aid.

Don’t be uncomfortable when thinking about financial aid. If you are uncomfortable, embrace it and don’t be scared because there are a lot of things to do.

This path is a journey, and you are going to start to understand it as you walk through it.

Kim Lamborn, Assistant Vice President of Enrollment Management and Director of Financial Aid

What Not to Do for the FAFSA

Don’t Forget Your Recent Tax Return

Take the time to make sure that you and your family are prepared with your most recent tax return information. You can use the IRS data retrieval tool to automatically upload your tax information into the FAFSA.

When using the IRS retrieval tool, make sure you are prepared with everything you need. You must match your address exactly as it appeared on the last tax return. You will not be able to use the retrieval tool if a marital status has changed, if your legal guardians are living together but not married, or if they are married but filing separately. 

Don’t Mix Up Social Security Numbers

One common mistake people make when filling out the FAFSA is entering an incorrect social security number. It’s easy to put in a child’s social security number when in fact you should have entered the dependent, or legal guardian’s number.

Don’t Misrepresent Your Household Size

Another common mistake is incorrectly entering your household size. This means that you either did not include someone who lives in the same household as you, or you added someone that is not considered a dependent by IRS standards. If you are unsure, you can visit to learn more.

Don’t Forget to Sign

You will use your FSA ID to sign the FAFSA electronically. Many people forget to hit “submit” when they are finished. This is how you sign using your FSA ID. Keep in mind that if you are a dependent, or someone that is financially dependent on someone else, a parent or legal guardian will have to have their own FSA ID to sign.

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