In nearly a decade of helping borrowers with student loans, I have heard a ton of excuses for not completing a FAFSA.
The best piece of advice I have on filling out the FAFSA would be this: if you are going to borrow any money for college, fill out the FAFSA.
Myth: My parents make too much money for me to get anything from the FAFSA.
Reality: Unless your parents are Bill and Melinda Gates, you should be filling it out. The only reason not to fill out your FAFSA is if you don’t want a single penny to assist the funding of your education.
Lets say that the income of your parents precludes you from any need based aid. This fact alone is not a reason to forgo the FAFSA. Not only does the FAFSA provide need-based grants and loans, but it is also the only way to get standard federal loans. Plus, even if you think you are too far into the middle class to get aid, you never really know until you fill out the form and find out for yourself. Too much income for a federal loan doesn’t really become an issue unless your parents are earning well over $300,000 per year.
If you are going to get any student loans, the FAFSA is an essential first step. Federal loans are better than all private loans for a variety of reasons. Choosing federal loans over private loans is a decision you will be glad you made when the time comes to start paying back your loans.
Myth: I can’t fill out my FAFSA because my family still has to file their taxes.
Reality: You can start filing your FAFSA on October 1 of the year before you start school. For example, if you need aid for the school year starting in 2022, you can file the FAFSA starting October 1, 2021. For more details check out this article on early FAFSA filing.
Myth: The FAFSA is too much work and it isn’t worth the hassle.
Reality: As previously mentioned, federal loans are the best and the FAFSA is the only way to get them. It is definitely worth your time.
As far as ease of filing the FAFSA, go to studentaid.gov and find out how simple it is for yourself. The hardest thing might just be remembering your PIN number.
Myth: The FAFSA website said something about a June deadline, so I have plenty of time.
Reality: Every day that you wait, the less money you are likely to get. The Federal government has a limited supply of need-based aid, and waiting longer will make it harder to get.
Additionally, your school will hand out scholarships and grants based upon FAFSA results. Again, the sooner you file, the better. You want them to look over your application while there is still money to give away. With each day that passes, more students file, and you end up in a longer line.
Procrastination is a skill that many refine during their college years, but pushing off this simple project is a mistake you really can’t afford.
2 thoughts on “The Best Time to file the FAFSA… and other FAFSA myths”
I know I’m late to the party but this is very true. I submitted my FAFSA as soon as my taxes were done, and was awarded a $4k need-based grant by my university. A friend who submitted much later only got standard Federal Pell Grants.
Timing is critical for both the need and merit based aid. In the future you should consider submitting before your taxes are even filed. You can submit an estimate and then revise your FAFSA if necessary. It gets you filed ASAP.