College Life

6 reasons EVERY college-bound student should fill out the FAFSA

Even the wealthiest families can be “needy” when tuition costs $40,000 per year. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, opens the door to grants, scholarships, work-study opportunities and federal student loans. No matter what financial situation you’re in, your student should fill it out each year. Here’s why…

REASON #1. The government gives out roughly 160 billion dollars in financial aid each year.

If there’s any chance your child may be eligible to receive financial aid, you should strive to get your piece of the pie. On average, the FAFSA takes only 30 minutes to complete and many families who don’t expect to qualify for financial aid, actually do! If you think you’re on the border, it’s well worth your time to apply.

REASON #2. Even high earners may qualify.

Money given isn’t based solely on income. The size of your family is also considered, along with parent age and other details. However, your student’s age age, field of study and grades won’t affect federal financial aid. Keep in mind, if your student doesn’t qualify this year, there’s still hope for next year. Their financial award may be different from year to year due to changes in your family’s finances or the number of family members enrolled in college at the same time.

REASON #3. You may get access to free money.

Last year, 7 million students received the Pell Grant and more than 28 billion dollars were awarded. It is income-based, but many are not. Federal grants also exist for military students, graduate students and aspiring teachers in high-need, low-income areas. Additionally, many colleges and scholarships foundations require middle and upper-middle class students attending expensive schools be awarded scholarships and grants. Some private colleges even award need-based aid to families with incomes over $200,000 per year.

REASON #4. Take out forgivable, low-interest loans.

Federal loans are likely the lowest interest rates you’ll find on student loans. Furthermore, with a Direct Subsidized loan, the federal government actually pays the interest while your student is enrolled at least half-time or in their grace period, making these the most attractive type of student loan possible. If you’d like your student to have some skin in the game, federal loans are an option to consider.

REASON #5. Colleges use information from the FAFSA to provide their own college or state financial aid.

Many colleges offer both need-based and non-need-based aid but require students to submit a FAFSA to be considered for either. For example, the Tennessee Promise offers all state residents 2 years of free tuition at a state community or technical college. This is regardless of income but students must first submit their FAFSA and maximize federal aid. Also, some colleges specifically offer certain scholarships to students who applied but did not qualify for need-based aid.

REASON #6. Financial circumstances can change quickly.

Even if you don’t plan on needing financial aid, there’s always the chance of a spouse being laid off or experiencing other financial burdens. However, colleges do not consider FAFSA applications submitted pasted their deadline, even if your financial circumstances change drastically. Simply having a FAFSA on record gives you the possibility of requesting funding later on if you need it.
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