Do you Have to Fill Out the FAFSA®?

Whether it be by planning, achievement, or plain ole’ luck, maybe you think you already have enough money for your college expenses. But remember: when it comes to financial aid, anything can happen. Although filing The Free Application for Federal Financial Aid (FAFSA®) is not mandatory, it’s free to file, safe, and you could get more aid than you expect. Think your family makes too much money for the FAFSA®? Think again. You may think you know the answers to these five questions about your family’s funds, but take a look at our answers. They may make you think again.

Does my family make too much money to qualify for FAFSA® funds?

If your answer is “yes,” consider how sure you are of that. Tax forms and income statements can be confusing, and if you’re not an only child, the money your parents have might not stretch as far as you hope. Another thing to consider is the employment status of your parents. The FAFSA® looks at your parents’ tax returns from two years prior to the academic year for which aid is requested. If income in your household has decreased, you may be able to get aid. The FAFSA® is objective and judges your needs regardless of how comfortable your family may feel. And remember: beyond federal financial aid, many grants don’t have income cutoffs.

Will my scholarships cover all of my school costs?

You may have been promised as much as a full ride for good grades or leadership skills, but many (if not most) scholarships still require a FAFSA® to decide how much to give. Plus, not all college tuition is created equal. Your ideal university may cost much more than what the scholarships you have can provide. Think about it: your cost of attendance is not just your tuition and school fees, but you also have to factor in the cost of textbooks, room, board, transportation to school, and your personal expenses. You probably need more than you think.

Can I be accepted to my preferred college without a FAFSA®?

Admission officers are much more likely to take you seriously if you file a FAFSA® because the likelihood of you enrolling is higher, according to educational consultant Lucie Lapovsky. Plus, if your college takes a “need-aware” approach to admission, they’re going to want to see your financial information regardless of how much your family makes.

Can I get through school without any loans?

We obviously hope that the answer is “yes,” but unfortunately for many student loans are an inevitability. The only way to access subsidized federal loans is to file a FAFSA®. These kinds of loans can help you save big bucks because interest-only starts accruing after you graduate.

What if my family’s financial status changes after I’ve filed a FAFSA®?

Unless you are an actual fortune teller, there is no way of knowing what may happen in the future. Your family’s financial status can change anytime. If your parent loses their job or their savings unexpectedly, filing a FAFSA® can give you a way to argue for reconsideration down the line.

Can the FAFSA® hurt me?

Filing the FAFSA® will not hurt you. If you’re concerned that you will get less aid from your first listed college, or not be accepted to your other listed colleges, or have undocumented parents concerned about deportation, you need not worry.

FAFSA® and College Admission Student Preference:

Some students looking to file the FAFSA® worry that colleges may not admit them if they “rank” the school too low when listing it on the form, or that schools ranked “first” may reduce aid because of a perception that the school listed first is a student’s top pick. Fear not: As of the 2016-2017 FAFSA®, individual colleges are no longer able to see the full list of colleges students enter on their FAFSA® form.

FAFSA® and Deportation:

Some students who are United States citizens, permanent residents, or eligible non-citizens with parents who are undocumented worry that filing the FAFSA® may result in deportation. Completing the FAFSA® will not result in deportation.

So, what do you think? Do you have to fill out the FAFSA®?

Protect yourself by filing the FAFSA®. And what’s there to lose if you can complete it in only minutes using FRANK? Your parents will thank you — whatever their financial situation.