What Happens If You Lie on Your FAFSA®?

What Happens When You Lie on the FAFSA®?

A person who lies on the 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 the 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 the 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 the FAFSA®, 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.

Apply for the FAFSA® as soon as possible to give yourself enough time to make corrections if needed. Also, remember that the consequences for lying on the FAFSA® are severe. Although you may be tempted, be honest when completing your FAFSA® application.

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Resources:

“42 U.S. Code § 1011 – Penalties for Fraud.” Cornell Law School. Web. 23 May 2018.

“Office of Student Financial Aid.” Appalachian State University. Web. 23 May 2018.