Benefits of FAFSA

Most people have heard of FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).  However, due to some misconceptions about the purpose of FAFSA, many people never fill it out.  This is because it’s commonly believed that only those who come from households with extremely low incomes can qualify.  This is not true.  Nearly 95% of Americans qualify for some sort of federal aid when it comes to education.  Even those from relatively high-income households can receive some sort of financial assistance.  This week we will be discussing several benefits that come from applying via FAFSA for financial aid.

As previously stated, a large majority of students qualify for FAFSA.  The US government gives out over $120 billion worth of financial aid each year.  This includes grants, loans, and work study opportunities.  A grant is money that is given without repayment being required.  For those in households that make less than $250,000 a year, this can be a huge blessing when a child is heading off to college.

Some people are given opportunities to earn federal loans.  The difference between a loan and a grant is that a loan requires repayment, as well as involves an interest rate.  One benefit of federal loans is that their interest rates are usually much lower than loans given through banks or other privately owned businesses.  There’s also an opportunity for loan forgiveness, meaning you may not have to pay off the entire loan if you go into certain careers, specifically government jobs.  These jobs include public teaching, military, or other public service careers.

The third possibility is work-study opportunities.  This simply means that a student will be able to get a job on campus in which they may receive an income while still being able to enjoy a full class schedule. 

Not only can you receive financial aid directly from the government but filling out FAFSA can help you to receive scholarships from your chosen college or university.  Many colleges will look at FAFSA to help determine who will receive certain scholarships, particularly when students are right on the border for qualifying.

FAFSA becomes available starting October 1st.  Students who are preparing for college (or who are already in college) should keep this in mind as they begin applying to different schools.  Also, keep in mind that as financial situations change, new opportunities are made available through FAFSA.  Take the opportunity each year you are in school to fill the application out as you never know what opportunities may open up for you.  It really is an incredible opportunity which should not be taken for granted or ignored.