Student Question: “We won’t qualify for any assistance – do we still fill out a FAFSA?
A lot of people assume that they will not qualify for anything on the FAFSA (grants, work-study, and student loans), but many times people are surprised!
They don’t expect to qualify for anything on the FAFSA but they then fill it out and discover they are eligible for grants even though they didn’t anticipate that they would be. The FAFSA takes a lot of factors into account (household size, number in college, age of parents, and income), so it’s worth applying to see what you might qualify for! Even if your student only qualifies for federal student loans, those can be a good option to pay for other expenses that scholarships and other saved money might not be able to cover. We always recommend using free money first and the FAFSA is the only way to access all federal, state, and institutional aid. The FAFSA that high school seniors will need to file (2019-2020 FAFSA) will open on October 1st so we recommend applying early!
Another good reason to file the FAFSA is that many scholarships at colleges and universities require the FAFSA as a component of awarding the scholarship, even if the scholarship is not based on financial need.
We recommend that students apply by their school’s priority financial aid deadline since there is some aid that is first come, first serve. It’s good to explore all the options available to the student, especially since the FAFSA usually only takes about 30 minutes to 1 hour to complete.
Finally, it’s important to remember that while the FAFSA is used to determine eligibility for federal financial aid (grants, work-study, and student loans), the student won’t know everything that they qualify for until the schools they are interested in attending sends them a financial aid award letter outlining all the aid that they are eligible for.
In fact, students won’t know if they have been awarded work-study until they receive this letter since work-study is awarded at a campus level and not all institutions participate in work-study.
In a few weeks, we will release our new FAFSA Walkthrough Video for the 2019-20 FAFSA on our YouTube channel detailing how to complete the FAFSA accurately and quickly. We are so happy that you reached out. Please let us know what else we can do to help you understand the ways to remove financial barriers to higher education.