This post is a collaboration with The College Board, however, all opinions expressed are my own.
Once upon a time, I was young and getting ready to graduate high school. As a first generation high school graduate, college was something my parents and extended family knew little to nothing about. I’m grateful for counselors, teachers, and others who helped guide me. I did not get a full-ride to college; that is, I didn’t get a scholarship that covered 100% of my tuition and expenses. Thus, I relied on federal aid, financial assistance and other scholarships to get me through.
Cue, the FAFSA. FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It is a form that can be prepared annually by current and prospective college students (undergraduate and graduate) in the United States to determine their eligibility for student financial aid. Here are a few facts about the FAFSA that you might want to consider:
- To learn more about paying for college, including finding scholarships,visit BigFuture or download the CollegeGo app. Students can use BigFuture to search for and compare colleges, find scholarships, understand financial aid, navigate the college application process from start to finish, and receive personalized deadline reminders, tips, and guidance along the way. The CollegeGo mobile app guides students through the essential steps in the college application process with an interactive interface that uses game, video, and search features to help students plan their college journeys. Perfectly efficient and user friendly!!
- Completing and submitting the FAFSA®is free and quick, and it gives you access to the largest source of financial aid to pay for college or career school. In addition, many states and colleges use your FAFSA data to determine your eligibility for state and school aid, and some private financial aid providers may use your FAFSA information to determine whether you qualify for their aid.
- If you don’t fill out the FAFSA, you could be missing out on a lot of financial aid! We’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 who’s getting ready to go to college or career school should fill out the FAFSA!
- The 2017–18 FAFSA has been available since Oct. 1, 2016. There are different deadlines for different programs though, so make sure to check the website for more information: https://fafsa.ed.gov/deadlines.htm
- There are several ways to file:
- Online at fafsa.gov is faster and easier than using paper.
- If you need a paper FAFSA, you can
- download a PDF FAFSA or
- order a print-out of the PDF FAFSA by calling 1-877-4-ED-PUBS (1-877-433-7827).
- Ask the financial aid office at your college or career school if you can file it there. Some schools will use special software to submit your FAFSA for you.
- Applying isn’t the last step; your FAFSA has to be processed, and then you get Student Aid Report (SAR), which is a summary of the FAFSA data you submitted. . Find out more about what happens after you fill out the FAFSA, including how aid is calculated and when and how your aid will be paid out.
Some people are very loan-averse. As a daughter or two Mexican immigrants, convincing my parents that getting financial aid was a good idea was a hard thing to do. In fact, it took the admissions officer at Stanford University to get on the phone with my dad and convince him that between the aid the school would give me and little bit that I would borrow, that I would actually be okay! Granted, it took years to pay that money back. BUT, I wouldn’t trade my education for the world, and truly believe that I am better for having received that aid than not having attended Stanford for college.
I filled out a second FAFSA when I applied for graduate school, and some years later, I am a PhD, MPH, and have a bachelors from one of the US’s most elite schools.
If you’re like me or know someone like me, share this information with them. Also, to learn more about paying for college, including finding scholarships visit the College Board or download the BigFuture app. The College Board has also created Spanish language resources for parents and families to help their children plan for college.
Finally, if you have any questions that you can’t find on the website, or simple want a third party to discuss your situation with, feel free to email me! I’m always happy to help rising academic superstars reach their full potential. Remember, money should not be the main obstacle keeping you from realizing your academic dreams. There is always a way to make it work.
Until next time! Stay ‘Chic’!