FAFSA Misconception: “I don’t qualify for FAFSA”

FAFSA Misconception - "I don't qualify for FAFSA" | JLV College Counseling Blog

The phrase, “I don’t qualify for FAFSA,” is something admission counselors, financial aid officers, and college counselors hear all the time. The phrase usually comes from students or their parents when discussing financial aid requirements. However, the phrase, “I don’t qualify for FAFSA,” is a common misconception and here are the reasons why:

  • The FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. United States citizens and eligible non-citizens are eligible to fill out the FAFSA.
  • The FAFSA determines federal financial aid eligibility such as the Pell Grant, federal work-study and loans.
  • Information provided on the FAFSA is also used by states that award state government aid.
  • The FAFSA determines a student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Colleges use EFC to determine financial aid eligibility and financial need. Financial need is determined by taking the EFC from the total cost of attendance.

The big misconception when people say, “I don’t qualify for FAFSA,” is that they believe they make too much money to qualify for financial aid. While it could be true a student might not qualify for federal or state grants, they still might qualify for other aid:

  • Many students, even students from high-income families, could qualify for federal loans. While it is still a loan, the interest rate is low compared to many other private loans a student could take out to help pay for their college education.
  • The cost of attendance at colleges in the United States varies. Some colleges cost as little as a few thousand dollars a year to over $60,000 per year. When colleges are awarding financial aid based on financial need, a student with a high EFC could qualify for financial assistance, including scholarships and grants, at more expensive colleges.

The U.S. Department of Education estimates it takes approximately 23 minutes to fill out the FAFSA. This short period of time filling out the FAFSA is well worth the time if a student could get even a small amount of financial aid. Every little bit helps when it comes to paying for a college education.

Therefore, if you are heading to college next year, don’t forget to submit the FAFSA. The FAFSA has been available to students and their parents since Jan. 1, 2016 for the 2016-2017 academic year. And, remember, students and parents must fill out the FAFSA every year!

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6 Comments on “FAFSA Misconception: “I don’t qualify for FAFSA”

  1. I filled out most of the form for a Fafsa and then lost it. I had saved it but now I can’t find it. Help?

    • Hi Ann. You should have created a FSA ID – you should be able to just log back in and see all of the information you already entered. If not, you may be able to contact FAFSA directly to see if they can help you.

  2. FAFSA is based on last year’s income. My dad has a different job now, making considerably less money. I think I could qualify for aid using the income he makes now. Is there anything I can do?

    • Hi Dana. If you are a current or incoming student who has already committed to the college, contact the financial aid office to discuss circumstances. Colleges should be able to reevaluate financial aid after circumstances are discussed and proven. They will probably ask for income information, job information, etc. In you’re going to be applying to colleges in the fall, you’ll need to contact each of the financial aid offices of the colleges you are considering and do the same thing. Each college will handle the situation differently, but most should be able to make changes to your aid. Good luck!

  3. What are my option if my school is telling me that I’ve reach my limit on financial aid but I have another semester to go before I graduate. Can I get additional aid?

    • Hi Deion. It is possible that you have reached your limit for financial aid if you have already completed four years. Each college sets their own rules for financial aid and how they award to students. It sounds as though you may have already talked to the people in financial aid, but if not, stop by your financial aid office and discuss your financial need. By putting in a personal request, the financial aid office may be able to help out a little. The only other thing I can suggest is to apply for outside scholarships. There is no guarantee you will win, but focus on scholarships with smaller applicant pools (specific eligibility requirements such as residency, major, interests, etc.) Good luck!


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