October 1st, 2021, marks the opening of the 2022-23 FAFSA®. For college students everywhere, this is a time to hunker down with your application and fill in all the gory financial details from your tax returns.
The process has been historically difficult to understand and less than user-friendly. At Frank, we take great strides to ensure that our simplified FAFSA® is easy for everyone — from first-year students to grandparents or caregivers that have never filed one out before.
Still, many students forgo filing FAFSA® under the belief that they’ll never qualify for aid. Here’s what we say to that— no matter your financial situation, you need to apply for FAFSA®! Here’s why:
Financial Aid FOMO is Real
Every year the federal government sets aside billions in aid money to assist students with education costs. Surprisingly, more than 1 million students forgo applying for financial aid each year.
That leaves over 2 billion dollars on the table that might help students lessen their loan debt. For most eligible students, that’s thousands of dollars a semester to help with education expenses.
At Frank, we believe that you should apply for aid money each year — especially if there’s been any change in your financial situation. You never know what change might trigger an opportunity for more financial aid.
Eligibility for the Pell Grant
Filing FAFSA® is the only way to be eligible for the Pell Grant. The Pell Grant is awarded to undergraduate students who display financial need. Unlike student loans, Pell Grants do not need to be repaid if you meet Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) each semester.
For the 2022-23 school year, the maximum Pell Grant Amount is $6,495. Since it’s highly dependent on your (and if you’re a dependent student, your parents) financial situation, you could receive any amount up to that. And let’s be honest, even a few thousand dollars towards your education is better than student loans.
To learn more about Pell Grant requirements, check out our article here.
Less Debt is Better
The student debt crisis is a serious situation. In 2019, student loan debt topped $1.53 Trillion, with over 44.7 million Americans struggling to pay them off. Filing for FAFSA® makes you eligible for everything from the Pell Grant to institutional scholarships and work-study programs.
When it comes to taking out student loans to pay for college, the money you get from FAFSA® can decrease the amount you need — which means you pay less over the life of your loan.
Like with any financial decision, if you can find options that won’t burden you with debt, you should try them first.
College and University-Based Scholarships
Many colleges and universities use the FAFSA® to determine both need-based and merit-based scholarship amounts. That also means that if you add multiple schools to your FAFSA® application, you could get competitive financial aid offers that might help you determine which school is the more financially responsible option for you.
If you know you need institutional scholarships, the easiest way to apply for them is by filling out your application each year.
But don’t forget, millions of scholarships are available that have nothing to do with FAFSA® — and it’s worth filing for as many of them as possible. Luckily, we provide an incredible scholarship resource that sends new opportunities to your inbox weekly—sign-up for our scholarship newsletter here.
Get Money and Work Experience
Work-study is a common option for students that need extra help paying for college. How do you become eligible for a work-study program? You guessed it — FAFSA®.
Work-study allows you to work for your school and use that money to pay for college expenses. An added benefit to work-study programs is that the income doesn’t count against you the next time you file your FAFSA®.
Not only could you get money to help pay for college, but you gain valuable experience that could help land you a better job upon graduation. After all, having job experience on your resume always looks better to potential employers.
We know that compiling documents and filling out your financial information can be scary. But the FAFSA® was designed to help students find ways to pay for college that doesn’t require going into more debt.
While we can never truly predict how much aid you’ll be eligible for, we can say that taking the 7 minutes (or less) to file your FAFSA® with Frank is worth the potential payoff. It’s easy, fast, and always free.
If you have any questions about filling out the 2022-23 FAFSA®, reach out to one of our financial aid experts at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re here to help get you to and through college, affordably!