If you have completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) you will soon receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) in your email inbox. Take a few minutes to look at it. The Department of Ed will put Comment Codes on your SAR with a brief description of what you need to do. The colleges you listed on your FAFSA will also get these comment codes attached to the institutional version of the SAR that they call an ISIR. There are 48 pages of comment codes, but you only need to worry about the ones that appear on your SAR.
One of my personal favorites is comment code 117. The text that accompanies the code says, "We assumed certain information to calculate your eligibility for federal student aid. We printed the assumption we made with the word "assumed" in the "you told us" space for each of the items. If our assumptions are correct do not change them. If they are incorrect, you need to make the necessary corrections." The corrections need to be made in the Central Processing Computer at the Department of Education. It is probably best if you contact the school and ask if they prefer that you make the correction through them or just go online and fix it.
Other comment codes are not so easy. Comment Code 131 indicates that you said you wouldn’t file taxes, but the amount of income indicated REQUIRES you to file taxes. Financial aid offices cannot continue to process your file until you do file taxes. They may require you to submit tax documents as verification.
Comment code 140 says your social security number belongs to a deceased person. You will need to get a written document from the Social Security Office and provide that document and show your social security card and a picture ID. It may take several years to get this fixed, so be prepared to do it each year.
If you are a male under the age of 24 and you get a comment code about failure to register for Selective Service you will need to register before you can receive federal student aid. If you are a male over 24 and have failed to register you will have to ask the college aid office what the procedure is for an appeal.
Read your SAR as soon as you get it. Check all the government assumptions. Make any necessary corrections. Your financial aid award depends on it.