This post was originally written by Nicole Callahan and posted on the Department of Education’s official blog Home Room.
You can see the original post here: http://www.ed.gov/blog/2015/01/5-reasons-you-should-complete-the-free-application-for-federal-student-aid/. Did you hear? The 2015-16 FAFSA became available on January 1, 2015! Fill it out: fafsa.gov.If you will be attending college between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016, you should complete the FAFSA. Here are some reasons why:
- It’s FREE! – The FAFSA is free to complete and there is help provided throughout the application. Several websites offer help filing the FAFSA for a fee. These sites are not endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education. We urge you not to pay for assistance that you can get for free at the official government website: fafsa.gov.
- It’s Easier than Ever – We’ve done a lot over the past few years to simplify the FAFSA. One of the most exciting enhancements has been the launch of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. The tool allows students and parents to access the required information from their IRS tax return to complete the FAFSA, and transfer the data directly into their FAFSA from the IRS website with just a few clicks. This year, the IRS Data Retrieval Tool will launch on February 1, so be on the lookout for that. Also, for those who have completed the FAFSA in the past, when you go to renew your FAFSA for the upcoming school year, a lot of your information will automatically roll over, saving you a lot of time.
- It Takes Less than 21 Minutes to Complete – Did you know that on average, it takes less than 21 minutes to complete the FAFSA? That’s less time than it would take you to watch your favorite TV show! And think of the benefits! Spend 21 minutes completing the application and you could qualify for thousands of dollars in financial aid. Talk about return on investment…
- You May Need it to Apply for State and College Financial Aid and Even Private Scholarships! – Completing the FAFSA is the first step toward getting financial aid for college, career school, or graduate school. The FAFSA not only gives you access to the $150 billion in grants, loans, and work-study funds that the federal government has available, but many states, schools, and private scholarships require you to submit the FAFSA before they will consider you for any financial aid that they offer. That’s why it’s important that every college-bound student complete the FAFSA. You’ll never know what you get unless you apply.
- More People Qualify than You’d Think – If you don’t fill out the FAFSA, you could be missing out on a lot of financial aid! I’ve heard a number of reasons why students think they shouldn’t complete the FAFSA. Here are a few: “I (or my parents) make too much money, so I won’t qualify for aid,” “Only students with good grades get financial aid,” “The FAFSA is too hard to fill out,” and “I’m too old to qualify for financial aid.”
These are all myths about financial aid. The reality is EVERYONE should fill out the FAFSA! Don’t leave money on the table.
For information and tips on completing the FAFSA, visit StudentAid.gov/fafsa.
Nicole Callahan is a Digital Engagement Strategist at the U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid.