However, many families find they end up spending more than the EFC for a student’s college education. Since the term “Expected Family Contribution” is somewhat misleading, it will be changed to Student Aid Index (SAI) starting on award year.
Should I Fill Out the FAFSA?
For most students, the short answer is yes. The FAFSA is the standard method for most organizations to award financial aid. Many students skip the FAFSA because they think they won’t qualify for any aid, or because they’re not sure how to access and fill out the application. An analysis by NerdWallet found that one-third of high school graduates didn’t fill out the FAFSA in 2018, leaving $2.6 billion in Pell Grant funding unclaimed.
Students who don’t fill out the FAFSA will need to rely on private loans if their family cannot afford to pay out of pocket, which can end up costing much more in the long-run due to higher interest rates, less flexible repayment plans, and no access to loan forgiveness options.
“The biggest mistake that many students and families make is not filing the FAFSA in the first place because they think they won’t qualify for aid. The FAFSA opens the door to many different opportunities for financial aid, and the sooner students apply, the better, as state grant agencies and scholarship organizations- which often have a limited pot of funds to give out on a first-come, first-serve basis- usually require students to have filed a FAFSA in order to receive aid.”
There are few, if any, downsides to filling out the FAFSA. One of the biggest deterrents is that the application process can be time-consuming and requires a lot of information. Having the necessary paperwork ready when you begin the form will make applying much easier. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool also streamlines the process for many students by automatically transferring the required tax information into the FAFSA form.
Another deterrent is the belief that filling out the FAFSA is just for student loans, or that once you apply for aid you can’t turn down a loan offer. However, applying for aid through the FAFSA means students might qualify for grant money and cash advance and payday loans South Carolina other aid they don’t have to repay.
You don’t have to accept loans you are offered, and you can choose to accept a smaller loan amount than the total you are offered if you want to borrow less
Taking out loans is a choice students can make down the road or refuse altogether. You ount later on after declining if you change your mind.
Students from middle and high-income families should still apply as the calculations for determining aid are complicated, making it difficult to predict whether or not you’ll qualify. Students who are confused by the application can find answers to many of their questions in this guide, or through nonprofit groups and other agencies that support students through the application process.
If you still can’t find the answer to your question or are confused, contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center to get one-on-one support through a live chat option, by email, or over the phone.
Generally, financial aid recipients must be U.S. citizens or eligible noncitizens, have a Social Security number, be accepted to or enrolled in a degree or certificate program from an accredited school, and have a high school diploma or GED.
There are some specific instances where students who don’t meet these requirements can still get aid detailed on the Federal Student Aid website.
Aside from these requirements, students must maintain academic progress during their studies to keep their financial aid. Each college sets its own standards for defining academic progress. People assigned male at birth also must register with the Selective Service.