Do I have to fill out the FAFSA?
The FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid is an application that many colleges will require for financial aid. The FAFSA will allow the college or university to understand your unique family financial situation and does not guarantee any financial aid. This is why some students and families may think–I don’t think our family will qualify for financial aid, so we don’t need to fill out the FAFSA.
- Resource: Scholarships360 FAFSA Guide
Here’s why this is a mistake:
You may actually qualify for financial aid
One of the myths of paying for college is that if you make above a certain amount of money, you will not qualify for financial aid. This is not true and many families, with a range of incomes, will qualify for some sort of financial aid. If the cost of college is of any concern for you, you should at least complete the Net Price Calculator to estimate your need-based financial aid package. This will give you a sense of what need-based financial aid could look like.
You will miss out on federal student loans
Student loans from the federal government are generally preferable to private student loans for repayment terms, flexibility, and forgiveness options. The FAFSA allows you to access these federal student loans. Loans should be a last-resort as you pay for college, but are sometimes necessary to consider.
Your individual family situation could change
Family financial situations can change–sometimes for reasons outside of your control. For instance, a parent could lose a job and change your family’s financial situation. This situation could result in a change in need-based financial aid for your family. Some students may not qualify for financial aid for one year, but qualify down the line. The FAFSA allows students to submit additional details and context if a family situation changes after you submitted the form.