Are you applying to college but have decided not to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid? Several surprising reports have stated that many families decide against filing the FAFSA. This is simply because they have heard that it is only for students from low-income families. This is not true at all. Several factors go into determining federal student aid. Even students from more privileged backgrounds may qualify. By not filing this free application, you could be missing out on a lot of FAFSA benefits that could help lower the cost of your college education.
FAFSA Benefits You Won’t Get if You Don’t File
Here are the 5 most important benefits of filing the FAFSA. Remember, you do not have to have a certain income to reap the benefits. Given the high cost of college, you won’t want to miss out on any of these.
Federal Student Loans with Lower Interest Rates
Unless you hail from a really wealthy background, you will almost certainly need to borrow some amount of money to cover the cost of education over four years. Filing the FAFSA qualifies you for federal student loans, which have a much lower rate of interest as compared to the interest rate you would pay on private student loans.
Forgivable Student Loans
If you meet certain requirements and if you have made 120 qualifying monthly payments, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program forgives the remaining balance on your Direct Loans. In general, joining the military, becoming a public school teacher in a low-income area, or working in public service, the government or a non-profit organization are some of the criteria to become eligible for forgiveness.
Federal and State Scholarships, Grants, and Aid Programs
Many financial aid programs require students to file this application in order to award any type of institutional scholarship or grant. Many state agencies and colleges require the FAFSA to award grants and scholarships.
Many colleges or use the information on the FAFSA as a deciding factor when evaluating applications from students who are on the borderline for merit scholarships. Colleges have limited funds that they allocate to students based on several different factors. They require the FAFSA to make sure that the student has first maximized their federal aid.
Outside Scholarship Qualification
Many outside scholarships and grants will require that students have filed the FAFSA in order to qualify for their opportunity. It’s more about proving that you have financial need than anything else. Scholarship sponsors want to give awards to deserving, and needy students, so requiring the FAFSA to be filed is one way to ensure that. Additionally, students or parents from select states (IA, MN, MS, NJ, NY, PA, VT) are able to transfer their FAFSA information directly into a state aid application.
Yes, filling the application can be challenging. The FAFSA asks for minute details about your financial situation, which can take awhile to put together. However, the time and trouble you put into filing this form is worth it. The form allows you to benefit from the best student loan options available.
And our helpful question-by-question FAFSA guide can help you through it!