Welcome to the College Prep Confidential Podcast
Sept. 30, 2019

CPC Episode #22 - Do You Make These Financial Aid Mistakes?

Sometimes, slowing down helps you go faster. And we'll cover how to avoid financial aid blunders with tips like: 14 mistakes which will cost you thousands in financial aid Don't fill out the FAFSA until you have these items How to speed up your...

Sometimes, slowing down helps you go faster. And we'll cover how to avoid financial aid blunders with tips like:

  • 14 mistakes which will cost you thousands in financial aid
  • Don't fill out the FAFSA until you have these items
  • How to speed up your financial aid report
  • Why the FAFSA response is not guaranteed financial aid
  • The magic number to call to get $250 worth of free college financial aid advice

Thanks for tuning into the College Prep Confidential podcast. This week, Episode 22, I want to talk about when hitting the brakes and slowing down gives you a chance to make thousands of dollars in financial aid. And we’ll do that, in an episode entitled - Do You Make These Financial Aid Mistakes?

I loovvvvve to go fast. Especially through or around boring stuff. If we’re at a boring party, boring meeting, or boring conversation, I’m cycling through in my brain to find ways to speed it up and get it over with. Ah, but in life, there are certain things you'll have a better experience with if you slow down and do it right the first time. Spending the extra time up front reaps you piles of benefits versus going fast and leaving rewards on the table.

It reminds me of an old joke...

There are two bulls standing on a hill overlooking a pasture full of cows. The younger bull, eager, but lacking experience, says to the old bull “Hey, let’s run down there and make love to a cow.” The old bull, who has spent season after season in this pasture, turns to the younger bull, smiles, and replies “Nah... how about we walk down there, and make love to them all.”


Spend some time up front, and you'll avoid stupid mistakes. Spend some time up front, and you'll attract untold riches. And nowhere is this more apparent then the FAFSA process. 


FAFSA - Free Application for Federal Student Aid

In order to qualify for federal financial aid at any U.S. college, you will need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. It’s Described affectionately by some as invasive, a pain in the butt, time-consuming. Who wants to fill out forms? Especially government forms… But it’s a necessary evil if you want to get thousands of dollars or more in financial aid.

According to multiple financial aid advisors and college students, the FAFSA takes 1-3 hours to fill out. And there's deadlines. It's October 1 through June 30 of the next year. As I record this, it's September 2019. Which means FAFSA starts in a few weeks on October 1.

What You Need Before the FAFSA:

  • FSA_ID.
    Create an FSA ID at https://fsaid.ed.govhttps://fsaid.ed.gov. Follow the instructions on the site. An FSA ID gives you access to Federal Student Aid’s online systems and can serve as your legal signature.
  • Drivers License #
  • Social Security Number
  • Tax Records
  • Assets
  • List of Schools you're even thinking about attending

How to get started:

Filing an online FAFSA is the fastest and easiest way to apply for aid. Go to FAFSA on the Web at https://fafsa.ed.gov

FAFSA is free by the way, there is no filing fee.

Once you have the list of things you need, here’s what to do. Go Find somewhere quiet with no distractions to fill out the form. While this seems like mundane paperwork, it might unlock the key to thousands of dollars in financial aid. So take it seriously. 

Avoid Mistakes:

  1. First and obvious - filling out the form. If you don't fill it out, you won't get any money. No money means you will be saddled with more debt and interest piling up
  2. Fill out Forms Early so you don't miss deadlines - Fill out forms early. Certain colleges are First come, first serve for financial aid. The grant money dries up as the clock ticks on. Remember, thousands of other students are piling in to get their hands on financial aid. Competition is fierce. The longer you wait, the more you’ll suffer.
  3. Filing the wrong year
  4. Wrong social security numbers or date of birth. You'd be surprised how often this happens.
  5. marital status errors
  6. Fill the form out completely. The common mistake people make is thinking the FAFSA form is for “free money” only, such as the Federal Pell Grant. it's more than that.  it’s also the application for Federal Work-Study funds, federal student loans, and even scholarships and grants offered by your state, school, or private organization.
  7. Deadlines - Each state and school sets their own deadlines. Miss it, and you're out. No replays, no forgiveness, do not 
  8. Wrong financial amounts like Adjusted Gross Income
  9. Get your FSA ID first. This is the ID used to sign your FAFSA form online
  10. Shortcut the forms by linking to the IRS Data Retrieval. Saves time and eliminates errors
  11. Add all the schools you are looking at to this form. 
  12. Sign the FAFSA form. This is an application. if you don't sign it, then it's not considered a legal document.
  13. Reluctance: - The FAFSA asks questions about family finances. The kids may not know what the parents make. The parents may be reluctant to admit what they make
  14. You must fill it out each year. Financial Aid does not renew automatically

I list these errors because if you make them, you have to correct them. Sometimes, they cost you thousands in financial aid. Some people continuously make errors only to have to go back and do it again. It reminds me of Sisyphus...

Sisyphus was a cruel Greek king who was punished to push a large rock up on a steep hill, only to find it rolling back on nearing the top. Ever since, he has been known for pushing the rock tirelessly till eternity. 

To avoid following in the footsteps of Sisyphus, fill out the form correctly the first time. If you do this right the first time, then the question is, what's next?

FAFSA response time

Assuming you completed your FAFSA with no errors, and you filed electronically, the general response time is 3-5 days. After this time, you'll get your Student Aid Report with your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). We covered the EFC in a few prior episodes.

Your EFC is an index number used by college financial aid staff to determine how much financial aid you would receive if you were to attend their school. The information you report on your FAFSA form is used to calculate your EFC. So when you apply to multiple colleges as I've advised, you'll see the various financial aid packages you'd be eligible to receive. The key word is eligible. This is not guaranteed. It's merely a calculation.

Call To Action:

I've covered a ton in this episode. From deadlines to errors to quirks in filing, this entire FAFSA process can be overwhelming. If you're feeling overwhelmed and you need help, I've got a special offer today. I work with a financial aid company with expertise in FAFSA and college financial aid. And what I've done is, reserve a few spots to get a free, college prep strategy session worth $250. This team of experts will walk through your goals and shed more light on the FAFSA process. And, if you like what you hear, and decide to work with them after the free strategy session, you'll get the FAFSA process done for you. If this resonates with you, then call 1-800-234-2933 to claim your free strategy session. That's 1-800-234-2933. Leave your contact information with my assistant, and mention the free college prep strategy session from this podcast. We'll get you set up with the free session.

Still unsure whether you need help of if the FAFSA matters. Well let me ask you this...


How would you feel if 4 years from now, you had an extra $35,000 in student loan debt, because you didn't spend the time to take the FAFSA seriously? How would it feel to get an extra $15,000 in financial aid because you got help from experts? would your life be different? If so, then why not try out the free offer? Again, that number is 1-800-234-2933.


Thanks for listening and I'll see you next week.