When to apply for the FAFSA to get more financial aid for college

Why is the best time to apply for college financial aid now?

Whether it’s because of austerity or the federal promise of forgiveness for student loans, suddenly families are paying more attention to financial aid for college.

More than half of parents with college students, or 58%, do not plan to apply for federal aid, but have now changed their mindAccording to a new report by Discover Student Loans.

Rich Finn, vice president of Discover Student Loans, said: “Given the uncertainties in the economy right now around inflation and recession fears, it’s understandable that some families are feeling the impact of paying down payments. college and reconsider applying for federal aid,” said Rich Finn, vice president of Discover Student Loans.

That’s where the free app for Federal Student Aid comes in.

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With tuition fees rising, most families rely on a combination of resources to make college affordable. Income and savings cover more than half of college costs, free money from scholarships and grants accounts for about a quarter of the cost, and student loan make up most of the rest, according to Sallie Mae’s annual report “How America Pays for College”.

“You want to maximize that free money first, such as scholarships and grants,” says Sallie Mae spokesman Rick Castellano.

But students must fill out the FAFSA for assistance. For the 2023-2024 school year, the FAFSA application season will begin October 1 – and students should apply as soon as possible.

The sooner families fill out the FAFSA, the better their chances of receiving aid, as some financial assistance is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, or from programs with limited funds.

Scholarships are key to college affordability

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“The FAFSA is the single most important thing you can do to qualify for scholarships and grants,” says Castellano. “Ultimately, it’s free money that you don’t have to pay back, and that helps make college affordable.”

Scholarships are the main source of funding, but only 60 percent of families use them, according to the education lender.

About 6 out of 10 people have used a scholarship received directly from their student’s school. Those students received $6,335 on average.

The majority of families who did not use the scholarship said it was because they had never applied.

Why don’t more families fill out the FAFSA

Last year, 70% of families completed the FAFSA, up slightly from 68% the previous year, a record low, according to Sallie Mae. This year, about 72 percent could apply, Discover estimates.

“My hope has always been that more families complete the FAFSA,” says Castellano.

Among those who did not applyThe most common reason was because they thought their income was too high to qualify for aid, followed by the application fee being too complicated or they simply didn’t know about it, Sallie Mae found.

In fact, “virtually every family will be eligible for some form of college aid,” Castellano said.

Many factors, not only earnings = earningsgoes into determining the amount of aid the student receives, including the total number of people in the household and the number of children attending college, as well as other financial commitments such as home loans or grants raise your children.

Families say the application process itself is another obstacle.

However, experts say that you can complete the FAFSA form online at or on the myStudentAid app in less than an hour, especially if you have the paperwork on hand, including a W-2 and last year’s tax return. Sallie Mae also has one free online FAFSA tool to help families navigate the process.

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