Should you fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) even if you think you won't qualify for aid? Do you need to reapply every year? Is the FAFSA even worth your time? Most importantly, are you holding FAFSA misconceptions that are costing you money?
Take the quiz below to test your FAFSA IQ.
1. You need good grades to receive financial aid.
Good grades are nice, but they aren't the be-all and end-all when it comes to financial aid eligibility. Your FAFSA application is all about financial considerations, not your transcripts.
2. Different schools have different FAFSA due dates.
No matter where you're applying, check each individual school to determine their due dates. Dates can vary by school.
If you're considering Early Action or Early Decision, be sure to complete the FAFSA in time for it to be taken into consideration with your application.
3. You only need to fill the FAFSA out once.
Sorry, but you'll need to reapply each school year to get the maximum amount of financial aid available to you.
4. If your parents make too much money, there's no point in applying.
FAFSA isn't just about income. The cost of your school and the number of siblings also attending college are also part of the equation.
In addition, FAFSA is required for other non-need based loans, and it’s also used by states and individual schools for determining their potential contribution to your education.
5. Anyone who's going to college should fill out the FAFSA.
Financial aid directors tell us that failing to apply for FAFSA is the #1 mistakeyou can make when figuring out how you're going to pay for college.
If you want to be considered for financial aid, including scholarships, you need to fill out a FAFSA. The schools you apply to will also use it to determine your grant and work-study eligibility.
6. Your e-mail address is used to file, access, and electronically sign off on your federal student aid documents.
Students, parents, and borrowers must create a unique FSA ID and password to access and complete the FAFSA online. Plus, this enables you to electronically sign the form, which helps expedite processing.
7. You can only list five colleges or universities to receive your information.
You can actually list up to ten—and you even add more later if you end up applying to additional schools.
8. A paper FAFSA can also be filed the old-school way: filled out by hand and sent in by snail mail.
However, you can only list four schools to receive your info if you use the paper application.
9. There are only 25 questions on the FAFSA.
All told, there are over 100 questions. But fear not! Using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool helps alleviate much of that burden (phew!), by automatically filling in information from your tax return.
FAFSA spells out what info you need to provide up front. So if you prepare a little bit in advance, you can complete the process in about 45 minutes.
10. The myStudentAid app also lets you fill out and file your FAFSA.
Filling out the FAFSA on mobile is easier than ever, thanks to recent updates to the app.
Other things to know
Get smart! The fastest, easiest way to apply is online at fafsa.gov.
Get writing! You can also download a PDF if you'd prefer to fill out the paper version.
Get help! Refer to our step-by-step FAFSA guide to navigate each and every application question.
Don Ritchie is an award-fearing writer-producer who appreciates being just out of the spotlight. When he's not contributing to nitrocollege.com, he's probably muttering to himself "I really need to get writing for nitrocollege.com." He resides in Chester County, PA, with his wife and son, both of whom are used to the muttering by now. The dog merely looks on quizzically. Read more by Don Ritchie