Your federal financial aid can help you go to college, but it can also be frustrating to navigate. These are the top five mistakes students often make on their financial aid — and how to avoid making them yourself.
Mistake #1: You forget or lose your PIN.
FAFSA’s application requires that you (and your parents, when required) apply for an electronic signature PIN. This 4-digit number is very important to your college career—and after! You’ll also need your PIN to access student loan information. When you set up your PIN, make sure you store it in a safe place. Learn more about your FAFSA PIN.
Mistake #2: You fill out your FAFSA application incorrectly.
Did you know that any mistakes you make on your FAFSA application can directly affect your aid? Make sure you answer all questions honestly, and remember that your college's financial aid office is there to help. Making mistakes can cause major delays. In fact, if you have to make a correction on your FAFSA, it can take 3-5 days or more for a financial aid office to just receive the new information, which may or may not require additional paperwork. Sometimes, mistakes can put you so far behind that your aid won’t be ready in time to buy books or to meet your payment deadlines. Be careful!
Mistake #3: You don’t check your student email.
If you aren’t checking your student email, you’re missing out on tons of important information, and not just in the financial aid department. But one of the biggest mistakes students can make is not taking the right steps if you’re placed on suspension. Even if you are eligible for aid and you have completed the FAFSA process from start to finish, you won’t receive any type of aid if you are on suspension. The financial aid office will always email you a notification of Satisfactory Academic Progress is a concern, and it’s your responsibility to read the emails and take any necessary steps to restore your aid.
Mistake #4: You miss priority deadlines.
If you haven’t completed your FAFSA and any required documents by the priority deadline each term, your aid may not be ready by the payment deadline – which means you may have to pay out of pocket to hold your spot in classes. Don’t let that happen! Make sure you know what the priority deadlines are, and make sure you meet them. Don’t wait until the first day of class to check on your financial aid.
Mistake #5: Your file is incomplete.
When your college is missing important paperwork from you, they'll often notify you by email. It’s your responsibility to watch for those notifications and to make sure that you’ve turned in all of your required paperwork on time. An incomplete file can cause you to miss payment deadlines, so keep an eye on your file.
Using financial aid for college? Don't forget to check your college's scholarship opportunities to see if you qualify. Texarkana College offers scholarships for incoming freshmen, current students, and transfer scholarships for top graduates. Learn more about scholarship opportunities at Texarkana College.