5 Reasons You Should Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

FAFSA January Free Logo

The new FAFSA for the 2013-14 school year is now available.

1. It’s the only way to gain access to the more than $150 billion available in federal student aid.

Completing the FAFSA is the first step toward getting federal aid for college, career school, or graduate school. Federal Student Aid provides more than $150 billion in grants, loans, and work-study funds each year, but you have to complete the FAFSA to see if you can get any of that money. Not to mention, many states, schools and scholarships also use the FAFSA to award financial aid, so every college-bound student should complete it.

2. It’s FREE!

The FAFSA is free to complete and there is help provided throughout the application. Several websites offer help filing the FAFSA for a fee. These sites are not endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education. We urge you not to pay these sites for assistance that you can get for free at the official FAFSA website: www.fafsa.gov.

3. It’s easier than ever.

We’ve done a lot over the past few years to simplify the FAFSA. One of the most exciting enhancements has been the launch of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. The tool allows students and parents to access the IRS tax return information needed to complete the FAFSA, and transfer the data directly into their FAFSA from the IRS Web site, saving lots of time. This year, the IRS Data Retrieval Tool will launch in early February, so be on the lookout for that.

4. It only takes about 30 minutes to complete.

Given all the simplifications we’ve made over the last couple of years, the FAFSA now only takes about 30 minutes to complete. That’s probably less time than you spend watching your favorite TV show each week. And think of the benefits: spend 30 minutes completing the application and you could qualify for thousands of dollars in financial aid. Talk about return on investment.

5. More people qualify than you’d think.

If you don’t fill out the FAFSA, you could be missing out on a lot of financial aid! I’ve heard a number of reasons students think they shouldn’t complete the FAFSA. Here are a few:

    • “I (or my parents) make too much money, so I won’t qualify for aid.”
    • “Only students with good grades get financial aid.”
    • “The FAFSA is too hard to fill out.”
    • “I’m too old to qualify for financial aid.”

If you think any of these statements apply to you, then you should read “Myths About Financial Aid.” The reality is, EVERYONE should fill out the FAFSA! Don’t leave money on the table.

For information and tips on completing the FAFSA, visit StudentAid.gov/fafsa.

Nicole Callahan is a new media analyst at the Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid.

16 Comments

  1. my spouse is thinking of enrolling in DoD nursing schools and she don’t have an greedcard nor an SSN yet, but just wanna kw if she’s still eligible to apply for the FAFSA program or filling out the application process, thank you.

  2. Just curious on why the application asks for my parents financial information since I’m in a health related program, like nursing. Thank you

  3. I think it’s wonderful that there are grant / loan programs offered by our government. It makes sense that we invest in our future work force so that we can continue to keep our country working. And in fact, that’s why I’m on this website…. looking for help with my education….. ‘help’ being the opperative word there. What I have a difficult time stomaching is the attitudes expressed here by some that they are somehow ENTITLED to a free education. They’ve got huge chips on their shoulders if they don’t qualify (Emily, Caitlin). What’s wrong with putting yourself through school????? Or being expected to repay a loan????? I think this attitude is exactly what’s wrong with our youth today, and frankly I’m glad my tax dollars AREN’T helping to perpetuate the feelings expressed by the two mentioned. Time to grow up and learn to take care of yourselves. This isn’t little league, where everyone gets a spot on the team and is required to spend ‘x’ amount of time on the field. No one’s going to hand you the job, the promotion, the account, etc. And the rest of us are tired of your whining.

  4. Sure, it is a Financial aid to low income families, however in a long run it is a trap into a much debt which is difficult to pay off with all uncertainties in life. Perhaps, you can find a way to partial forgiveness programs working in under served communities or go overseas. You have many years ahead. Stay optimistic and creative

  5. I agree 100% that everyone should file a FAFSA. I am a returning adult student who has the option for additional funds for daycare expenses just by completing a form. I have nearly exhausted the funds available to me for a BS and still have one term to complete, by renewing (which takes seconds), I am still eligible for grants to help me over the hump. ALSO, at the end of education, the FAFSA helps direct you to payment options and towards other opportunities to ERASE your college debt depending on what career path you take.

  6. A student of mine was surprised that she could not accept an invitation from a professor to work with her on a research paper because she did not have a FAFSA application on file. The student had developed her own major as an undergrad and was taking some very specialized courses. The professor wanted to help her get published, but all teaching assistants were considered to be doing work study…a federally funded program. A quick FAFSA filing and some patience got them were they needed to be, but this is just a reminder that FAFSA is for EVERYONE.

  7. Reading this, it’s easy why a lot of people are (were) so apprehensive. I’m so glad that this is available
    to help with the financial end of continuing ones education

    • Ashwani; Sure you can… You might be footing the whole bill though…As far as getting Federal aid which is what they are referencing here you have to be a US citizen…

  8. “The reality is, EVERYONE should fill out the FAFSA! Don’t leave money on the table.”

    Sure thing. And when they’re done with the money giveaway so “students” can attend a diploma mill school don’t forget to promote the many ways the DOE has to get out of repaying their debt.

    Spend a day Google searching news stories about student loans and discover the biggest ripoff of responsible taxpayers EVER.

    Almost ONE TRILLION dollars in “student aid” and growing. Amazing

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/27/for-profit-colleges-student-loan-default_n_2371688.html

    • Bill… The DOE doesn’t have the debt the kids do…. The next bomb you are going to uncover are the Plus Loans… They aren’t going to be happy just burying the kids…. They are going to make it easy to let parents bury themselves as well… 10.6 Billion just last year!!!

  9. I don’t believe in the FASFA at all. I don’t see how parents are involved in it if you are paying for college yourself. I had absolutely no money but because my parents made however much I got absolutely nothing so I had to pay for 4 years of college by myself with no government help. Oh and a loan is not aid so don’t classify it as such unless it’s one without interest.

    If you have a large family, your parents don’t make a lot of money, you’re 26(?) or over, or have time to waste then sure go ahead and fill it out but other than that I thought it was based on the absolute stupidest things.

    • I agree with you 100%

      My mom worked in a fast food restaurant as a cook, my dad drove a semi, and they told me that my parents made too much money.

      Regardless of any of that, my parents weren’t able to help me anyway, because of their debt to credit cards and hospital bills.

      So I went to community college and put myself through, and now face debt myself.

      Screw FAFSA, thanks for a while lot of nothing.

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