Friday, January 14, 2011

Is it really necessary to complete the FAFSA?

When you're applying to college, do you need to submit the FAFSA* even if you are quite certain you will not qualify for need-based aid?  After all, you are disclosing all sorts of information to colleges when you submit the FAFSA.  Plus, it's a time-consuming task.

In the NYT's The Choice, Mark Kantrowitz gives us a few reasons to submit the FAFSA:
  • It is difficult to predict if you will qualify for need-based aid, and surveys have found that it is common for families underestimate their own eligibility.  Sometimes you just need to complete and submit the form to learn if you qualify.
  • The FAFSA is required for federal Stafford and PLUS loans, which are not need-based.
  • Some schools require students applying for merit-based aid to complete the FAFSA.
  • Congress changes the rules quite frequently, so you may be caught off guard if you don't have a FAFSA on file.
Every family has to judge for themselves, but it's important to consider all the facts before deciding.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (known as the FAFSA) is a form that can be prepared annually by current and prospective college students (undergraduate and graduate) in the United States to determine their eligibility for student financial aid (including the Pell grants, and work-study programs)

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