Applying for federal aid is a crucial step most high school students take while transitioning to college life.
Parents going through the college admissions process for the first time, though, may not realize that they also play a huge role in helping their children apply for grants and scholarships through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.
FAFSA Is Required to Receive Government Student Loans
FAFSA is the form students fill out to apply for federal financial aid. Just over 18 million students fill out the FAFSA each year. Your child won’t be eligible for government-funded college aid, such as loans or grants, if they don’t apply.
Your Child Could Qualify for Grants by Filling Out FAFSA
One common federal grant is the Pell grant, which is awarded to first-time undergraduate students who show exceptional financial need, such as coming from a low-income family.
It Also Determines Work-Study Eligibility
Federal work-study is a way for students to earn income at a part-time job while in college. These jobs can be on or off-campus and vary by school, although not all schools participate in the program.
Some Schools Use FAFSA to Determine What Aid They Offer
If the schools your child applies to offer their own aid, such as need-based scholarships, they may use FAFSA to determine eligibility.
Almost All Applicants Under 24 Are Considered Dependents
Most students under the age of 24 won’t be able to apply as an independent, which means that family income wouldn’t be considered. Rather, they’re most likely going to be considered a dependent student and therefore need parental financial information to complete the FAFSA.
Your Child Needs Your Information to Apply
If your child is filing as a dependent, then they’ll need some basic information about your finances, such as your income and bank statement.
High-Income Families May Want to Still Apply
If your family is middle- or upper-class, you may wonder if your child will receive any FAFSA aid. However, applying is free, and family income is just one of many factors considered during the application process.
Grades Don’t Affect FAFSA Eligibility
FAFSA does not have a GPA requirement to apply. However, your child may want to keep in mind that they could lose any aid given to them through FAFSA if they have poor grades for multiple semesters after they receive the aid.
Deadlines May Differ by State and School
If you’re not sure what deadlines apply to your student, consider checking with the financial aid offices of each school your child applies to and ask what their FAFSA deadlines are.
Having Multiple Kids in College No Longer Affects Eligibility
Starting with the 2021-2022 FAFSA form, how many children in a family are in college or applying to college will no longer affect their financial aid eligibility. Before, families with multiple children in college may qualify to receive more aid.