Every new year along with holiday celebrations and family gatherings, students getting ready to go to college set aside time to fill out their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Federal Student Aid consists of government loans and grants (free money) that are given to students who decided to pursue higher education. Yet many students fail to complete their FAFSA application because they often have misleading information or misconceptions about the process. Here are five myths that often keep students from filing for federal student aid:
1. Myth: My parents make too much money!
Reality: According to the FAFSA website, there is no income cut-off to qualify for federal student aid. Your parents may make “too much” money for you to qualify for grants (free money based on need, or specialty), but federal aid also provides students (and parents) with low interest and long-term loans.
2. Myth: I/My parents haven’t filed my/their tax returns.
Reality: If your parents haven’t filed their tax returns don’t worry or stress about it! While filling out your FAFSA you can enter estimates of your tax amounts. Once your parents (or you) have filed that year’s tax returns, you can log back in, change the amount, and resubmit your application. But remember, this has to be done no later than your school’s filing deadline.
3. Myth: I haven’t decided what college I’m attending this fall.
Reality: You don’t have to rush into making a decision! According to the Federal Financial Aid website ,”You can use the Federal School Code Search to search for colleges you’re interested in including on your FAFSA. You can also find detailed college information, like tuition and fee amounts and graduation rates, and compare that information for up to 10 colleges at a time.”
4. Myth: My parents don’t have a social security number.
Reality: If your parents do not have a Social Security Number, do not worry! As long as you are eligible to receive aid there should be no reason to worry. When asked to provide a Social Security Number for one or more parents that do not have one enter 000-00-0000 as an alternative.
5. Myth: I’m attending a technical/vocational school not a community college/university.
Reality: Federal student aide is available for most trade, vocational schools as well as community colleges and universities. Jennifer Camacho, a student at Portland Community College (PCC), remembers, “I didn’t know that student loans could pay for a community college. I put off school for a year because I thought I didn’t have enough money to pay for college. Once I found out I could get government loans to pay for some classes here at PCC I started school right away.”
While the application is available starting January 1st, deadlines for completing and submitting the FAFSA application vary by date depending on the prospective college or university. It is important that no matter what path you take to pursue an education, that you remember there are ways to pay for college and FAFSA is one of them. Filing a FAFSA also provides financial information that your school uses to determine what student aid from the University/College is available to you.