Starting October 1st, 2017 both new and returning college students alike are eligible to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the upcoming 2018-2019 academic year. The FAFSA opens doors of opportunity by providing additional ways to finance your education. Filling out the FAFSA is required to access the billions of dollars awarded each year in college grants (like the Pell Grant), federal student loans, and work-study awards. Here are three reasons why you should complete the FAFSA each and every year you’re in college.
1. The FAFSA is Like a Box of Chocolates, You Never Know What Amount of Aid You’re Going to Get.
You won’t know what you might qualify for unless you submit the FAFSA. A large number of Utah college students receive gift aid (commonly known as scholarships and grants) that do not require repayment.
A study conducted by the Utah System of Higher Education found that over half of college students who enrolled in Fall 2014 and Spring of 2015 received a form of gift aid, averaging $4,680 per student.
There are still Federal Pell Grants and funding for students left unclaimed each year. A Federal Pell Grant, unlike a loan, does not have to be repaid, except under certain circumstances. In 2013, over $45 million dollars in Pell grants went unclaimed in the State of Utah—reason being, not enough students completed the FAFSA to see if they were eligible to receive the grant.
Did you know? The FAFSA doesn’t just qualify you for Federal Student Loans. Completing the FAFSA can also qualify you for federal and state grants, institutional and private scholarships, and work-study programs.
There is some truth to this old saying – especially when it comes to the FAFSA. The earlier you file your FAFSA, the better odds you have to receive funding. Federal grants are not impacted by the date you choose to file your FAFSA; however, some states and colleges have only limited award money to allocate to students. You can start filling out your FAFSA as early as October 1st, 2017—however, you have until June 30th, 2019 at midnight Central time to submit it if you need some last minute financial aid for Summer semester 2019.
There are various programs and systems in place to help make the FAFSA easier to complete and less overwhelming. One great resource for Utah students is StepUp to Higher Education. StepUp hosts FAFSA Completion Open Houses across the state to assist both parents and students with completing the FAFSA. Last year they offered over 75 events all over the entire state and plan to conduct 90 events this year! The free and public FAFSA Completion Open Houses are going on right now and you can see their whole schedule of events here. If you’re unable to attend an event and still need assistance with your FAFSA, you can view their FAFSA full walkthrough video here.
Completing the FAFSA online simplifies the process by automatically skipping questions that don’t apply to you and by plugging in your prior year’s tax information with their IRS Data Retrieval Tool.
The FAFSA also has a help and hint box on the right side of the screen to offer detailed information as you go.
Now go get to filing! The FAFSA is free and can be completed at https://fafsa.ed.gov/. Remember, the FAFSA is the only way to apply for the billions of dollars in financial aid available to help finance your education. It’s imperative that you file your FAFSA if you are going to school, as you never know what aid you might be able to qualify for or receive – and again, millions of dollars go unclaimed per state each year. The sooner you get going, the better. There are plenty of tools to help you be successful in getting your FAFSA completed in a timely manner.
Still have questions about FAFSA, Financial Aid, or Student Loans options? Schedule a free consultation with us today!