It’s FAFSA time (and that means YOU!)
Over the years I’ve talked to parents who had no intention of filing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) because they thought they wouldn’t qualify or could afford to pay for college and didn’t need help. Here’s the real truth: there is aid available to almost every student, but you MUST complete the FAFSA to get it.
Here’s a snapshot of the money that is available once you complete the FAFSA:
Federal Aid-The federal government doles out $80 billion dollars a year in the form of grants, loans and work-study programs every year. The only way to get any of this money is to complete the FAFSA; government funded student loan interest rates are substantially lower that private loans.
State Aid-Most states have state funded higher education programs if you are a resident of the state. However, you must complete the FAFSA to get that money.
School Aid-Colleges themselves offer all types of grants and scholarships to the students who are accepted. Even though you may not have financial need, you may be eligible for merit aid scholarships and most colleges require the FAFSA before dispersing the aid.
There are a few other reasons to file if you have specific circumstances:
You are divorced-The FAFSA only asks for custodial parent information. If you had primary care of the student in 2011, and you have a modest income, the student could qualify for aid, even if the other parent’s salary is substantial.
You have two or more children in college-With two students in college your EFC (Expected Family Contribution) drops by 50%. If you didn’t get aid with the first, chances are you will with the second.
The BEST reasons to file the FAFSA are clear cut and simple:
College is expensive-Even if you can afford to pay for your child’s education, why would you turn down financial aid if it’s available. You have nothing to lose by filing and everything to gain. College costs are rising and who couldn’t use a little help?
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It’s FREE-This is one college form that won’t cost you a dime. A small time investment is certainly worth it.
You could qualify for FREE money-A recent Reuters article stated that 1.8 million families might have qualified for aid but they neglected to file the FAFSA. Remember, there is more money out there than just need-based aid.
A few hours of your time could net you some substantial financial help and savings. Think of it as a coupon. If you don’t use it, you don’t get the discount; and if you fill out the FAFSA early (at least by February 1st), your chances of getting aid are much higher. If you need help, you can submit a question online or call the 800 number and speak to someone.
As always, if you have any questions about college or the FAFSA, shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to answer them for you.
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