We’ve reached the mid-point of the school year which means it’s time for seniors to start considering next steps. For those contemplating college, it can be an overwhelming and stressful process. One of the biggest concerns students face is tackling the cost of college.
To qualify for financial aid, you must fill out Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). However, many students skip or procrastinate on this crucial step because of common misconceptions.
- My parents (or I) make too much money for me to qualify: Income is not the only factor considered. Many factors play a part in your qualifications for aid such as family size, level of dependence and more, so it’s better to fill out FAFSA and see what you receive. You may be surprised by the results.
- College is too expensive: Filling out FAFSA will help you qualify for grants (free money), scholarships (free merit-based money), loans (money to be repaid) and work-study programs (working your way through school on campus). Most students do not pay the full amount of tuition and filling out FAFSA will help keep those costs down.
- It doesn’t matter when I submit FAFSA as long as I make the deadline: You have more options the earlier you submit. If you wait too long, you may miss out entirely even if you submit before the dealine. Schools may run out of funding or run out of grants by the time your FAFSA arrives, so apply early to have the best chances of getting the most money.
- My grades aren’t good enough to
qualify: While merit-based scholarships may not be possible, there are plenty of other options available based upon your financial need. Filling out FAFSA will help determine what financial aid avenues you have available.
- Filling out FAFSA is too hard: While filling out the paper version of FAFSA can be tricky, there are websites that offer step-by-step guides. Filing online is a much easier process though. The online version only asks questions relevant to your family situation and the Federal Student Aid website offers plenty of tips and advice.
Regardless of what you may have heard about FAFSA, it will bring you one step closer to obtaining your degree without as much strain on your wallet. You can learn about next steps on your college journey, but a lot of it will depend on the school you decide to attend. You can sign up for free text message updates from schools located in Central Florida with the Going2College program to ensure you don’t miss any registration or financial aid deadlines.
Heart of Florida United Way believes education, both in and out of the classroom, is a lifelong experience and the most influential factor in ensuring a child will grow up to succeed. To help ensure students get the education they deserve, we fund many programs that serve people from cradle through career, such as mentoring and tutoring services, literacy initiatives, food pantries, medical services and clothing. To get help, please call the 2-1-1 Information and Assistance Helpline. For more information about how Heart of Florida United Way invests in education, visit our website.