Top Reasons to Fill Out Your FAFSA
“Do I need to fill out a FAFSA?” This question has probably crossed your mind a few times.
If you are sifting through college applications there are probably a dozen questions you are asking yourself. It’s good to know there are many ways to pay for college. Keep reading for the 5 top reasons to fill out your FAFSA.
What is the FAFSA?
FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is one of the most important things you can do if you need financial support. It’s completely free and incredibly easy to fill out! FASFA gives you access to the largest source of aid to help you pay for college or career school. This means grants, scholarships, loans and work-study programs–all of which you can combine in whatever means best fits your unique situation.
Who should fill out the FAFSA?
Do you need help paying for your undergrad or graduate education? Then you are someone who can and should fill out FAFSA. According to the student aid website, the specifics of eligibility are as follows:
- demonstrate financial need for need-based federal student aid programs;
- be a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen
- have a valid Social Security number
- be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student in an eligible degree or certificate program
- Enroll as at least half-time student to be eligible for Direct Loan Program funds
- maintain satisfactory academic progress in college or career school
- sign the certification statement on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form stating that you’re not in default on a federal student loan, you do not owe money on a federal student grant, and you’ll only use federal student aid for educational purposes; and
- show you’re qualified to obtain a college or career school education.
This last one can feel a bit tricky. Check out the Student Aid website to learn more about this topic.
In short, figuring out where to begin on this long college journey is not for the faint of heart. There are essays to write, schools to visit, and often countless applications to fill out. For many reasons, one of these applications should most definitely be FAFSA. Undergraduate or graduate education isn’t inexpensive.
Filing for Federal Student Aid is a great way to figure out all the different ways you can get financial support from the government. Whether this is through a scholarship, a grant or a private loan, you must fill out the FAFSA form in order to find out what is the best option for you. So what are the top reasons to fill out your FAFSA? Let’s dig in.
Top Reasons to Fill out Your FAFSA
#1: It’s Free and Easy!
The first F in FAFSA stands for “free!”
This isn’t a joke! Filling out FAFSA costs you nothing and could truly make a huge difference in your financial possibilities when it comes to affording college or grad school. If you opt out of filling out a FAFSA, you’ll never know what you may have been eligible to receive. According to this report, 1.65 million 2022 high school graduates didn’t fill out FAFSA. This (among other reasons) resulted in nearly $3.6 billion of unused Pell Grant funds.
This means graduates that could have been eligible for these funds but didn’t know, may have opted not to go to college at all. This is definitely one of the reasons to fill out your FAFSA!
#2: If you are a Native American student hoping for financial aid, the FAFSA comes first!
Student aid for Native students can come in many forms. There are merit-based scholarships based on your tribal association, there are grants and private loans. There are also plenty of work-study options if you are interested in going that route. But here’s the thing: without filling out FAFSA form, you won’t be able to access a dime of these funds.
Why not? All roads to student aid begin with the FAFSA. In order for the government to understand what your family’s financial needs are, you need to fill out your FAFSA. You might not know what you want to do and how much aid you will need. Even so, you should begin by filling out your FAFSA.
#3: Personal Financial Changes
Life is a rollercoaster. As we’ve seen in a big way over the past few years, anything can happen. You might start your journey in a situation that allows you to pay for college with no problem, but then… BOOM! A job loss, a family emergency or death, an economic downturn, or (ahem) a global pandemic? All of a sudden you are in a very different situation than when you started.
By filling out a FAFSA form, you are securing a critical step if your financial situation unexpectedly changes. In order to make a so-called “professional judgement” about whether or not you now need student aid, a completed FAFSA is necessary. Do this in the beginning of your college application journey, and could you save yourself a headache during a time that could already be challenging.
#4: Establishing Credit
In our current financial landscape, having good credit can open a great many doors. But historically, putting credit cards in the hands of college students hasn’t turned out well for them. By filling out FAFSA and borrowing money from the government, you are positioning yourself to have what some people refer to as “good debt.”
Many believe that educational debt is the best kind of debt to have. When you attend college, you are investing in yourself and therefore your greater community. You might be more likely to find a job or follow a career path that helps you to pay off the debt you incurred for your education. By paying off student loan debt with on-time payments, you establish a good credit history for yourself.
This could make your future endeavors that much easier to obtain.
#5: Eligibility for Direct Federal Loans and Your Ability to Pay
Many families in this country feel unsure about whether or not they will qualify for student aid for college. Most students will need some type of financial aid to attend 4 years of undergrad. By completing your FAFSA, no matter what your “financial strength,” you are helping admissions teams. They need to figure out who can pay what amount, and where they will need to help others in their target freshman classes.
Some may opt out of filling out FAFSA because they believe their income level will exclude them from eligibility. The truth is your family may not qualify for a subsidized government loan. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other financial support options that are right for your family’s situation. By filling out your FAFSA, you can get clear information about what type of student aid is best for you.
So Why is it important to fill out your FAFSA?
If these top reasons to fill out your FAFSA haven’t convinced you to start typing, let us help you. Here at Cobell Scholarship we believe everyone who wants to should have the chance at college. And we know how to help you figure out the funds if need be. If you’re ready to start this journey but not quite sure of your first step, we are happy to help point you in the right direction. Contact us today!