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Tips for Completing and Correcting Your FAFSA

Getting Started

There is no fee to fill out the FAFSA.  The FAFSA acronym stands for "Free Application for Federal Student Aid."  There is also free online and telephone support to help complete the FAFSA.

Beware of companies who charge fees for completing your FAFSA. Some of these companies have been identified as scams; others have been known to provide incorrect advice or fail to meet deadlines.

If your FAFSA is submitted after the March 1 Priority Deadline, you will receive lower priority consideration for many grants, need based low interest rate loans, and work study.  In most cases, the awards will be confined to Stafford Loans and Pell Grants (if eligible).

You may use estimated tax figures if you have not filed your federal income taxes before March 1.

DO NOT enter cents when entering dollar amounts in the income sections of the FAFSA.

As long as you submit your FAFSA with correct signatures by March 1, you will be considered on time, even if you make corrections (e.g., use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool for taxes filed on April 15) after March 1.

Do not wait for an admissions decision before filling out your FAFSA.

Complete all items on the FAFSA application.  Use a “0” for items that are not applicable.

IMPORTANT: enter your Social Security Number correctly.  If you enter it incorrectly, your SAR (Student Aid Report generated from the FAFSA) will have a reject code and your application will be rejected.  You will need to file a new FAFSA, and your aid award could be significantly delayed.

The Virginia Tech school code is 003754. (Step 6, Item #101a)

Report asset figures (items 40-42 in Step 2 and items 88-90 in Step 4) effective as of the day you submitted the FAFSA. (Please note: do not change these figures in future corrections unless you have specific knowledge that the figures incorrect on the original filing day.) 

Include your current e-mail and your physical mailing address.

Provide all required electronic signatures.  Use your PIN (and your parent’s PIN if you are a dependent student) to sign the FAFSA application electronically.  (You may also print, complete, and mail the Signature Page to the Federal Processor within 10 days of submitting your FAFSA.  Be aware that mailing in a signature page will slow down the processing of your application.)

Print or save your confirmation page.  This will verify that the Federal processor received your FAFSA.

Checking and Making Corrections

You can check the status of your FAFSA online. (You will need to provide your PIN.)  •3-5 days after submitting your FAFSA if you signed with an electronic PIN

•7-10 days after submitting your FAFSA if you printed, completed, and mailed in a Signature Page

If your initial 2014-15 FAFSA submission was before March 1, you may make updates/corrections to the FAFSA after March 1, without losing priority status for financial aid.

Use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) as soon as you can.  •The DRT should be available at www.fafsa.ed.gov approximately 3 weeks after electronic tax filing.

•Paper tax filers and tax filers who owe additional taxes on the filing date will not be able to complete the DRT until after April 15.

•The following are not eligible to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool •Students or parents who are married and filed as Married Filing Separately,

•Students or parents who are married and filed as Head of Household,

•Students or parents filed an amended tax return,

•Students or parents filed a Puerto Rican or foreign tax return.

Do not send documents (tax forms, W2s, etc.) unless requested.   •Unrequested documents can needlessly delay the aid process, often triggering additional verification requirements.

•For prospective students, we will send request emails to the address provided on the FAFSA.

•For continuing students, we will send request emails to the vt.edu email account and post the request on HokieSPA.

Do not change asset figures when updating an already-filed FAFSA, unless the figures were incorrect on the day you first submitted the FAFSA.  Online corrections to asset information will prompt the Office of University Scholarships and Financial Aid (USFA) to request verification forms that could delay financial aid awards and/or disbursement.  (If your assets are affected by extenuating circumstances such as one-time disbursements, extraordinary medical expenses, or changes in employment or income, please review the Professional Judgment Appeal option.)

Rollovers – Retirement savings moved from one qualified retirement plan to another qualified plan should not be reported as untaxed income on the FAFSA. However, if a parent/student uses the IRS Data Retrieval Tool embedded in the FAFSA any rollover will be reported incorrectly. Applicants in this situation should file the FAFSA without changing the transferred tax data and then follow the steps below.

What Happens with Your IRA and/or Pension Rollover?

The data retrieval tool does not identify and exclude tax return IRA and/or Pension distributions that have been rolled over into another account.  It will take the IRA/Pension distribution minus the taxable portion of the distribution and enter the result as untaxed IRA and/or Pension on your FAFSA.  This may result in a higher Expected Family Contribution (EFC) than you should have.

What Should You Do If You Have a 2013 IRA or Pension Rollover?

  • DO NOT attempt to correct the information yourself.  By changing any of the tax data, you compromise the data transferred from the IRS. 
  • Provide the following documentation to our office (please write "Rollover" on all pages along with the student ID number):
    • A written notice/request for a correction to your FAFSA Untaxed IRA and/or Pension Rollover.
    • A copy of IRS Form 1099 from the organization the IRA or Pension was rolled into.
  • As long as you have not compromised the tax data by making changes to your FAFSA, once your documentation is received, it will be reviewed and processed.

You Transferred the IRS Data But You Already Updated the Rollover Figures Yourself. Now What Do You Do?

  • Go to www.fafsa.gov, 2014-15 FAFSA Corrections.
  • Select Link to IRS to again transfer your tax data to your 2014-15 FAFSA.
  • Do NOT make any changes to the transferred tax data.
  • Provide the following documentation to our office (please write "Rollover" on all pages along with the student ID number):
    • A written notice/request for a correction to your FAFSA Untaxed IRA and/or Pension Rollover.
    • A copy of IRS Form 1099 from the organization the IRA or Pension was rolled into.
  • Once your documentation is received, it will be reviewed and processed.

FAFSA/Help Sites

Apply for financial aid at Virginia Tech by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The FAFSA on the Web Worksheet allows you to read and complete the questions before entering your information online. The questions are listed in the same order that they appear on the Web site.

FAFSA4caster will help you get an early start on the financial aid process by providing you with an early estimate of your eligibility for federal student aid.