Brittany Clausman, University of Michigan ’15

Completing your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is one of the most important things you must accomplish if you plan to attend college, but for a significant amount of students who will begin college next fall, the FAFSA is something that can be skipped. Some reports indicate that a whopping 47% of all recent high school graduates attending college did not complete their FAFSA last year, leaving a staggering 2.9 billion dollars of federal aid money unclaimed. That’s huge, and for many students, could have affected when or if they attended college.

Parros College Planning is all too familiar with some of the hesitation some may have when it comes to completing the FAFSA, but we strive to make sure everyone of our clients know just how important completing this document is. Here’s a few debunked FAFSA myths from us in order to get you started on the right path—completing your Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

My family makes too much, there is no point to filling out the FAFSA

This is probably the most common and prominent excuse many students or their parents give as to why they have not completed or are not considering completing their FAFSA. The fact of the matter is that how much money one makes is only one determining factor in how much aid a student is awarded. Families with high incomes tend to forget that FAFSA will also consider factors such as age of parents and children, and family size when determining award amount.

Not filling out the FAFSA because you think you will not be awarded need-based aid also means that you could be limiting yourself from receiving other aid in the form of scholarships and low-interest loans. Most schools will require completion of FAFSA before they offer institutional merit-based aid for grades, SAT/ACT scores or even athletics, and every student who completes a FAFSA qualifies for subsidized and unsubsidized loans. So, unless you plan on paying entirely out of pocket, completing FAFSA is a must.

FAFSA is too difficult/complex to finish

There’s usually a collective groan heard whenever someone brings up the idea of FAFSA. It’s true that filing your aid application can get a little complicated at times, but for the most part, FAFSA has been set up to try to make the process as easy and quick as possible. FAFSA offers students and parents the chance to easily fill out their tax information with simple data inputs. If you have prepared early and have the correct documents with you, completing your FAFSA can take as little as 30 minutes to complete. If you do get stuck, you can always call, email, or live chat with a professional through FAFSA website.

At Parros College Planning, we know that completing the FAFSA your first time around is especially difficult, and coupled with completing applications and essays doesn’t make it easier. As part of our Promise Package, we complete your FAFSA for your first year of college, eliminated one stressful requirement so you can put more time and energy into preparing for college.

I only have to complete the FAFSA once

Wouldn’t that be nice? Unfortunately, just as you cannot know what the future may hold for you, the FAFSA cannot assume that your situation in life will remain the same the entire time you attend college. Incomes change, family dynamics change, and even the cost of tuition may affect how much federal aid you are awarded, so completing the FAFSA every year is imperative in order for you to receive the best aid for you situation. Think of it positively—every year you complete the FAFSA, it gets a little easier and you might end up getting more financial aid!

I’m only attending part-time, so I’m ineligible for Financial Aid

For many students, attending college full-time is not an option due to many factors. As such, there are many who attend college part-time who do not consider themselves eligible for financial aid. The fact of the matter is however, that most of the great financial aid services awarded—grants, loans, scholarships and work-study—can be accessed by part-time students. There are a few requirement, such as credits per semester and grade point average, but federal student aid is absolutely an option for many part-time students. Simply completing the FAFSA will let you know if you, as a part-time student, can qualify for financial aid.

When I submit doesn’t matter as long as I make the deadline

While in the end it’s mostly important that you simply get your FAFSA completed, time is also important in determining just how much aid you may be awarded. There are many types of aid, such as Pell Grant, that are awarded based on a first come, first serve basis. If you don’t file early, you could miss out on thousands of dollars’ worth of financial aid. Some people think they should wait until they hear about their acceptance to certain colleges, but that puts them at a huge disadvantage regarding aid. So, don’t wait, get started as soon as possible in order to assure that you get an adequate amount of aid.

Whether you believe in one of the myths listed above or have any other reservations keeping you from filing your FAFSA, the fact of the matter is: completing your FAFSA is incredibly important and everyone should do it. There’s really no reason to not complete your FAFSA, yet many reasons to complete it. Completion of the FAFSA form opens some valuable options to college students, and during a time in which the cost of tuition can fluctuate drastically from one year to the next, every penny counts.

At Parros College Planning, completion of the FAFSA is a must. That’s why part of our Promise Package is specifically focused on completing the FAFSA for our clients. With our assistance, we have helped numerous students earns thousands in federal aid by using our expertise in FAFSA. So, why wait? Start your FAFSA now, before you regret it.