Each year the U.S. Department of Education provides more than $110 billion in federal loans, grants and work-study funds to helps students pursue a college education. But believe it or not, plenty of those funds are left unclaimed (more than 40% of high school seniors fail to apply). And it’s as simple as filing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Whether you’re worried about paying for college or not, completing your FAFSA is your ticket to low-interest loans (a lot easier to pay off than private loans) or even free aid like the Pell grant. While some people assume their families make too much money to qualify for financial aid, only 5% of U.S. households make too much money to qualify for financial aid. But if you choose not to file, you’ll automatically miss out on financial support you might have otherwise received, including state aid programs that use FAFSA as the state application.
Five Reasons to File FAFSA (as Soon as Possible)
#1 – Maximize Your Financial Support
Some aid is limited and awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, so filing your FAFSA early is the best chance at getting the most money. Think of it like registering for classes. The longer you wait, the more you’re competing with everyone else who waited. UW-Stout recommends filing by March 15, but even if I can't (or haven't) hit that deadline, make sure to file as soon as you can.
#2 – Check One More Thing Off Your List
Completing the FAFSA early removes one more important thing off your to-do list, which means more time later you won’t spend worrying about how to pay for college. Filing FAFSA is now easier than ever, and it usually takes about 30 minutes to complete. With the FAFSA done, you can get back to schoolwork or Spring Break or Netflix or whatever.
#3 – A One-Stop Shop for Financial Aid
The name might say “federal,” but you have to file your FAFSA to apply for state grants and need-based scholarships. Don’t leave money on the table. Fill out the form.
#4 – Deadlines Are Sooner Than You Think
Some grant and scholarship programs have FAFSA deadlines that are closer than you think, and they tend to be a lot closer than you think when you forget about them. But it’s less of problem when you file early.
#5 – It’s Free to File
We save the best of last: The first “F” in FAFSA stands for free! The only thing you’ll spend is a few minutes of your time, but the cost-benefit ratio is through the roof! Not only will you know how much aid for which you qualify, you’ll have a clear idea of how much the next year of college will cost. And knowledge is power (that’s why you’re earning the degree, right?). Once you know how much federal aid you’ll get, you can plan for how to pay for any remaining tuition that’s not covered by grants and scholarships.
And we’ll even make it easy for you: check FAFSA deadlines, estimate federal aid, and file online.
If you need help, just give us a call!