When you apply to college, one of the first steps you’ll need to take is to complete the FAFSA form. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid determines your eligibility for all types of federal financial aid that can be used to pay for your tuition and student fees. If you don’t think the time spent on the FAFSA is worth it, think again. You could be eligible for free money in the form of federal grants. But you can’t get any of it without filling out the FAFSA.
FAFA Helps You Find Financial Aid Opportunities
You never know what you’ll qualify for until you fill out the FAFSA. If you are worried that your income or age will hold you back, don’t be. Anyone who meets general eligibility requirements may be eligible to receive some form of federal financial aid. And if you’re older than 24, married, a Veteran, or have children you support, you’re considered independent. That means your borrowing limits for federal student loans are higher than the limit for students who are still dependent on a parent. No matter what type of aid you may be eligible for, it’s better to get some money than none at all. According to a study by NerdWallet, students missed out on $2.7 billion in financial aid because they didn’t fill out the FAFSA.
Financial Aid Is More than Student Loans
When you think of financial aid, you probably think of student loans. While student loans are a type of financial aid, they aren’t the only type. The FAFSA can help you qualify for grants such as the Federal Pell Grant and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant. It can also qualify you for the Federal Work Study Program, which allows you to earn tuition money by working part-time at your school. And some states and private scholarships will use the FAFSA results that you share with them to qualify you for other grants and scholarships.
Student Loans Are Better Than Private Loans
If you do need additional funds to cover the cost of tuition, federal student loans are a better option than private loans. And you can only qualify for federal student loans if you fill out the FAFSA. Although you will still have to pay the money back after you graduate, there are certain benefits that only federal student loans offer.
If you receive a subsidized loan, for example, the government will pay for the interest that accrues while you are enrolled in school. The interest rate on federal student loans is also fixed and is usually lower than the interest rate on private loans. There are also multiple repayment plans that you can choose from, depending on your income or how long you’d like to take to pay off the loan.
FAFSA Is Free to Fill Out
There isn’t much in life that’s free these days, but the FAFSA form is. If it doesn’t cost you any money, and you could potentially receive money to pay for college, why would you not fill it out? The form can be filled out on the Federal Student Aid website, but it’s also available now on the myStudentAid app as well. Since the electronic form is filled out under your account, some of the information will be pre-filled automatically the next year you begin it. That will save you time.
Federal student aid could be available to you—you just need to fill out the FAFSA to get it. At Porter and Chester Institute in Connecticut and Massachusetts, we have a team of Educational Funding Specialists who want to help you find the financial aid resources that might be available to you.