Myth: You Only Have to Submit the FAFSA Once

You hear it over and over your senior year of high school: You have to submit your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)! However, even though you may not hear about it much during college, don’t think the FAFSA is a “one and done” type deal that you only have to fill out before you leave high school!

You Have to Submit It Every Year

Most high school seniors hear so much about the FAFSA before heading into college that many get sick of the name! Due to that, and the lack of hearing about it in college every year, it can lead some students to believe it’s a sort of “one and done” thing.

It’s not! To keep your benefits or receive new loans in general, you have to complete the FAFSA every single year you are attending college. Make sure to let your parents know so they can give you their financial information every time you fill out the forms. They can also qualify for specific loans through FAFSA, such as the PLUS loan.

Update It Every Year

Information changes from year to year. Your parents may have moved or their income went up in the previous twelve months. You don’t want to submit the wrong information and potentially lose any benefits or loans you had received the year previously.

Not updating it could also prevent you from receiving any loans you are now eligible for. Every time you fill it out, ask your parents if the information you have is up to date.

You May Qualify for Scholarships

Many colleges and universities also use FAFSA for their own grants, loans, and scholarship programs. Even if you don’t think you’ll qualify for the FAFSA loan you want, fill it out anyway! You may be surprised at what your school offers you and it could save you and your family money for years to come.

Check your school’s website to see what scholarships or grants you may qualify for to give yourself some extra incentive!

Don’t Fill it Out and You Could Lose out on Money

If you only fill out FAFSA once before you attend college, you could seriously be hampering your current and future finances while you’re earning your degrees. Your loans and other benefits will not renew if you did not submit your current information, even if it did not change from year to year.

As with scholarships, never assume you will not qualify. Most applying students receive some offer, whether direct subsidized or direct unsubsidized loans. You may find this loan option much more appealing than draining your savings or taking out private loans.

Filling out the FAFSA every year does not take long and is absolutely worth your while. Taking the hour or two to update, verify, and submit your information may end up saving you thousands of dollars. Set reminders for yourself every fall to make sure you get it out of the way and keep an eye out for notifications and mail regarding your potential benefits from either the federal government or your school.

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Hilary Cairns

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