Myths of FAFSA

On January 4th, CNN Money reported on the fears of budget cuts for young college students.  Education Secretary Arne Duncan wrote a letter to Congress stating that if the budget cuts go through (starting in March), programs like FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) will be effected.  Between now and then, I’m certain that a lot will be written in the media about the specifics of these cuts.  You’ll likely read about impacts on Pell Grants, subsidized loans and work-study grants that will lead to further confusion over the FAFSA process.

At the same time, January marks the beginning of the “FAFSA season,” for lack of a better description.  In light of this I’ve decided to focus this month on the “Myths of FAFSA,” that I hope will clear some of the fog and equip you for the media buzz over budget cuts and how they may impact federal student aid.

FAFSA Myth #1:  

  • I make too much money (or my parents do) to qualify for financial aid, so filling out FAFSA is a waste of time.

Some believe that financial aid is based on income alone, but this is false.  The formula for determining financial aid is complex for sure, but it takes into account several other factors besides income.  For example, the number of children who are attending college, any unemployment experienced and the college you plan to attend.  The truth is you won’t know if you qualify until you fill out the application.  Add to this, that most States, and some colleges, will not consider you for aid unless you have filled out a FAFSA application first. Skipping the FAFSA application only leaves money on the table, as I mentioned before, so get started on it today.

To learn more about FAFSA and the financial aid process, download the “free” financial aid manual at MaxFinAid.org.

 

 

 

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. jake

    I am waiting on my pell grant money to arrive for the very first time. It says they are mailed the 4th week of school. My question is about all this budget cut stuff on TV. Will my money be affected at all? I’m only getting half of the full amount because I was late but next semester I don’t want to get screwed because our government can’t take responibility.

    1. maxblogfinaid

      Jake, thanks for the question. Yes, the money usually arrives a few weeks into the semester and schools understand this. Regarding the sequestration that’s currently happening, there are no certainties. Currently the Budget Control Act exempts the Pell Grant, which is great news! However, with Congress, these things are always in flux and student aid could be impacted. A similar thing happened back in the 80’s, with a budget fight that postponed federal aid for most of the fall semester (again, colleges didn’t hold students at fault).

      That said, if you are awarded aid by the federal government, it is highly unlikely they’ll renege on that promise. Postpone payment? Perhaps, but not withhold grants given out in the 2013-2014 school year. What’s more likely, is that if federal aid is cut it won’t take affect until the 2014-2015 school year.

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