15 May 5 FAFSA and Financial Aid Myths
Applying to colleges is an exciting time, but can also be stressful due to needing to narrow down colleges and then figuring out how to pay for everything. Many students end up missing out on financial aid that can help alleviate some of those stressors because they assume one or more of the FAFSA and financial aid myths they’ve heard are true. Here are five top FAFSA and financial aid myths you should know.
1. My Family Isn’t Eligible for Financial Aid
All too often, students sadly don’t pursue applying for financial aid because they assume they won’t qualify. The reality is everyone should file—even if they turn out ineligible for the larger awards, they might be awarded smaller amounts of money which can help pay for at least books or college fees. Bottom line, is always, always fill out the FAFSA form. The FAFSA also opens the doorway to low, fixed-rate student loans.
2. I Don’t Need to Fill Out the FAFSA Every Year
Students sometimes assume that since the personal information they entered in the previous year’s FAFSA is the same that they don’t need to file. This is a huge fallacy. Every year a new FAFSA must be filled out. Fortunately, it’s not as cumbersome as the first time, since some information can be carried over, but tax information and a few other details will need to be updated each academic year.
3. I Can Declare Myself as Independent to Get More Financial Aid
The U.S. government considers college students dependent on their parents until they are 24 years old or more. To qualify as an independent student between the ages of 18 and 24, you’ll need to meet specific criteria per the U.S. Department of Education.
4. It Doesn’t Matter When I File the FAFSA
While technically you don’t have to get your FAFSA in until June 30 of each academic year, the reality is you want to get it in as soon as possible. Later filing usually means the specific deadlines set by individual schools are missed; some want to see the FAFSA completed by March or even earlier. You can file as early as October 1, as long as you have at least one school listed (you can always update later, listing up to 10 schools at any given time). The longer you wait, the greater the chance a school distributes available aid to other students who filed earlier.
5. It’s Too Costly to File the FAFSA
The FAFSA is completely and 100% free for students if you file through the government’s official website www.studentaid.gov. Any other website charging money is not the official one and should be avoided in case they are scams. If you need help, there are legitimate professionals who can help you file if you need assistance.
Accolade Financial is committed to helping students and their families explore the best options to help them pay for college. To learn more, schedule an appointment with Accolade Financial today.