Top Five FAFSA Mistakes: How to avoid them

What are the top 5 FAFSA mistakes made by families?

Russell Golowin, founder of College Relief Funding, LLC, shares his insight on the pitfalls and common mistakes by families regarding the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application process.


  1. Not filing the FAFSA at all. Many families assume that they are not eligible for the benefits of the FAFSA. The only way to be positive that you will not receive any federal aid is to not file the FAFSA.
  2. Applying to schools based on “Sticker Price”. The point of the FAFSA is to give aid where it is due. Sometimes by choosing to attend a reach school that seems expensive at face value, you are more likely to receive more aid when all the steps are taken properly. Students could possibly have greater difficulty affording a moderately priced school with minimal aid as opposed to a higher-priced school with maximal aid.
  3. Filing the FAFSA Late. Financial aid is first come, first serve! Don’t minimize your aid by making this silly mistake!
  4. Applying to a minimum number of schools. By applying to several schools, you give yourself options. If you only apply to one safety and one reach school, neither school is likely to give you very much aid at all. The reach school knows that if you get accepted there, you will probably want to go there. The safety school knows that if you don’t get into the reach school, you will have to go there. Golowin suggests that students apply to at least six schools.
  5. Becoming informed too late in the process. Many families don’t start actually learning about the process until pressure is overwhelming—deadlines need to be met, papers need to be filled out and filed, and final decisions need to be made. Golowin suggests that families start planning no later than a student’s
    junior year in high school and encourages beginning as early as middle school. By beginning early, the student has a lot of time to learn about deadlines and college options.

To learn more about the financial aid planning process, join us Wednesday, June 23, 2010 at 9 p.m., Eastern, for #CampusChat on Twitter. Russell Golowin, founder of College Relief Funding (on the web at will be our expert guest.


Chelsea Merget, a junior at Boston University is pursuing a degree in
with a minor in Psychology. She is spending the summer as a public
relations intern with Smart College Visit, Inc.

Author: cmerget

Chelsea Merget is currently an Account Coordinator at Grayling PR in Seattle, WA, specializing in B2B and enterprise tech startups. She was previously an intern and social media specialist on the Smart College Visit team. Chelsea earned her BS in Communications and minor in psychology from Boston University.

Share This Post On

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Sign up for SCV News and get tips and resources for the college-bound and the college-going. Parents and counselors, we've got you covered, too, and don't worry, your contact info will not be shared without your permission. We don't like spam and assume you don't either.

You have Successfully Subscribed!