There are many myths circulating about the FAFSA. Unfortunately, the myths sometimes stop students from submitting the FAFSA and qualifying for financial aid. Below are ten common myths about the FAFSA that have been debunked.
I don’t qualify for FAFSA.
Many students and parents think they do not qualify for FAFSA because their income is too high. However, if the student is a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen, they qualify to submit the FAFSA. The FAFSA determines federal aid including grants, federal work-study, and loans. In addition, the FAFSA determines the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Colleges use the EFC to determine financial need (Financial Need = Cost of Attendance – EFC).
I can’t fill out the FAFSA until I have applied to colleges.
You can start filling out the FAFSA as soon as it opens for the upcoming year. For the 2017-2018 academic year, the FAFSA opens October 1, 2016. Even if you have not submitted your college applications, you can submit the FAFSA. You will be asked to include the codes for the colleges you want the FAFSA sent to. If you think you will be applying to the college, add the college to your list. The information will be sent to the colleges, but they probably will not produce a financial aid award offer until you have been admitted to the institution. In addition, if you change your mind and decide to apply to another school later on, you can always go back in and add more colleges that should receive your FAFSA information.
I support myself so I don’t have to include my parents on the FAFSA.
This may not be true. Even if you live away from your parents, you may still be considered dependent for federal student aid purposes. If you are considered dependent by the FAFSA, your parents’ information will need to be included on the FAFSA. Visit the FAFSA to determine if you are considered dependent or independent for FAFSA purposes.
My parents are not citizens, so I can’t fill out the FAFSA.
If the student is a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen, they can submit the FAFSA. The FAFSA does not ask about parent’s citizenship. However, it does ask for their social security numbers. If your parents do not have a social security number, they can simple put zeros in its place.
I filled out the FAFSA already, so I don’t have to do it again.
Even if your income stays exactly the same every year, the FAFSA will need to be submitted for every academic year the student will be enrolled in college to be considered for federal aid. In addition, many colleges require FAFSA information to award aid.
The FAFSA is the only form I need to submit to qualify for financial aid.
The FAFSA is one of the most common things colleges require for financial aid. However, some colleges may also require the CSS Profile and/or their own financial aid application. Check with each college to determine financial aid requirements and make sure you submit everything early. In addition, pay attention to your email and mail after submitting financial aid documents because some students might be required to submit extra documentation for verification purposes, such as tax forms.
As long as I submit the FAFSA by the deadline, I’ll be offered financial aid.
Some aid is given on a first come, first serve basis. Unfortunately, some aid options have a certain amount in the budget and some students will be out of luck if they submit too late. Therefore, it is best to apply as early as possible.
I didn’t qualify for aid last year, so I won’t qualify this year.
Things can change from year to year in your own income, as well as the way colleges award financial aid. Everyone should fill out the FAFSA every year.
My Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is what I have to pay for college – financial aid will cover the rest.
While there are some colleges that meet full financial need, there are many more that do not. Each college has their own formula as to the percentage of aid that will be awarded to students. Therefore, students need to do further research when looking at colleges and make sure the colleges they are considering are good financial fits. Check the net price calculators at the colleges you are considering to get an estimate of the amount of aid you may be awarded if you are admitted to the institution.
The EFC is set in stone.
Colleges understand that sometimes circumstances change. The FAFSA does have a place for you to explain income changes, but you can talk to colleges. If your income has changed drastically, or if there is some other circumstance colleges should know about, contact each of the financial aid offices at the colleges you are applying to discuss special circumstances. Most colleges will probably ask for documentation to prove the change and when financial aid is awarded, colleges will take the special circumstances into account and make the necessary changes.
If you want to be considered for financial aid, make sure you submit the FAFSA.