What is FAFSA and Why Should I Apply?

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The FAFSA is now open as of October 1st, and I would hope everyone has been gathering their information to apply for the FAFSA.  But wait? What is the FAFSA?  I actually do hear this nearly everyday when I ask students if they are going to apply.  And it is completely understandable why many don’t know what it is.  So in the event you are unsure what it is and in case you think you might want to apply, here are some really good reasons why everyone should.

“Free Application for Federal Student Aid”

This application is actually important for every student that wants to attend college.  What the FAFSA determines is whether or not a student is eligible for federal aid in the form of Pell grants or student loans.  This is the ONLY way students will know whether they are eligible or not for Pell grants.  Well then, what is a Pell grant?

“A Pell Grant is a subsidy the U.S. federal government provides for students who need it to pay for college. Federal Pell Grants are limited to students with financial need, who have not earned their first bachelor’s degree, or who are enrolled in certain post-baccalaureate programs, through participating institutions.”

Basically, a Pell grant is free money that the government gives to students that show financial need, and then students do not have to pay that money back.  There are certain requirements that a student must meet when accepting a Pell grant (such as committing to going to college at least part-time) but most students have no problem fulfilling that part-time requirement.

If you do not qualify for a Pell grant, you may qualify for student loans.  The great thing about applying for this aid is that you DO NOT have to accept a student loan that might be offered to you through the FAFSA.  Even if you qualify for a student loan, there is no reason that you have to accept it other than if you NEED to.  If you have been able to secure funding through savings, scholarships, Pell grants, parents bank account, there is no reason that you have to accept a student loan.  It is just good to know that in the event that funding doesn’t completely come through, you may have a last resort if you need it.  Student loans do have low interest and easy re-payment plans if this is the path you take as many students do.

Students also should apply for the FAFSA if they are planning on applying for scholarships.  There are many scholarships that require you fill it out, especially those that are needs based.  For example, there is a great scholarship out there (due November 30th) called The Daniels Scholarship.  This one is financial needs based and they want to know what you qualify for regarding federal grants.  That way, The Daniels Scholarship (if you win their award) program can determine what you need from them once the grants run out.

Many colleges will also want you to apply for the FAFSA.  Once you do, the  information is sent to the schools of your choice for their review.  Many times schools will award Merit scholarships based on what your FAFSA might say.  If you just are just shy of qualifying for Pell grants, but almost qualify for a Merit scholarship, they may just award that student the Merit scholarship based on the information they received.

As you can see, there are a great many reasons why everyone should apply for the FAFSA.  ALL students of ALL levels of parent income should still apply. I would encourage all of you to apply today.  You never know what benefits might come from taking a half an hour to fill it out.  Hope this helps!

Here are a few links that you may find helpful:

Three reasons you should fill out the FAFSA

What is a Pell grant?


If you do have questions please remember my door is always open. (: