Every year, my daughter’s college asks me to file a FAFSA form. Although she’s in her last year, it makes a big difference in her aid package.
The FAFSA form opens the door of the vault to financial aid. Even if you don’t think you’ll qualify — or you think it’s a waste of time — do it. Your financial status may change from year to year and colleges need to know that.
You have from October 1st of this year to June 30 of next year to file the form for the 2022-23 school year. While the form in the past has been difficult to work through, the government has simplified it.
More importantly, FAFSAs help a college determine the “Expected Family Contribution (EFC),” the amount of money families are expected to pay out of pocket every year.
“The completed FAFSA shows the college a family can pay and allows for proper debt structure,” according to the student aid website PayforEd.com. “Student loan decisions are becoming more critical in college affordability. A better debt structure limits the parent’s liability and improves student loan repayment and forgiveness options.”
Filling out the FAFSA may qualify a student for grants that don’t have to be paid back. I’m always surprised how much non-loan aid is left on the table every year. Some $3.7 billion in Pell grants go unclaimed.
Don’t wait. Federal and school-based aid is limited. Even “merit-based” grants not tied to financial need may run out. The early bird gets the worm.