Applying for the FAFSA® is a big deal, and since some awards are assigned based on need, a student or parent may be tempted to lie about financial needs or be dishonest about other information. However, the government does not look kindly on dishonesty. Applicants face many consequences when they lie on their FAFSA®.
What Happens When You Lie on the FAFSA®?
A person who lies on their FAFSA® commits fraud. This serious crime is one that the government may punish with fines up to $20,000, up to five years in jail, or both. The student may also be forced to repay any financial aid received. Colleges and universities may suspend or expel individuals guilty of FAFSA® fraud, as well.
Can You Amend the FAFSA® to Correct a Lie?
Yes, you can correct your FAFSA® after you’ve submitted it. This correction includes adding or removing colleges, updating your contact information, and correcting any field except for your Social Security number.
It’s difficult to say how often people lie on their FAFSA®, since proving that incorrect information was deliberately provided may be challenging.
However, even people who think that they have gotten away with submitting false information may have their application pulled for verification. About 30 percent of all applications go through this process. Many cases of fraud are caught, and verification helps separate fraudsters from those who made innocent mistakes.
More common, however, is that people make mistakes when filing ®, such as not understanding definitions correctly or entering incorrect information. These issues don’t have the same legal penalties as lying, but they can still cost thousands of dollars in financial aid.
File FAFSA® as soon as possible to give yourself enough time to make corrections if needed. Also, remember that the consequences of lying on your FAFSA® are severe. Although you may be tempted, be honest when completing your FAFSA® application.