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Common Myths About the FAFSA Form Debunked

So you’re starting college next fall, and you want to apply for some federal student loan money. That FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form is sitting there staring at you, and you have to fill it out. But you’ve heard so many things about it that you are not sure how to proceed.

The problem is, believing these myths can cause you to miss out on federal money either because you don’t fill it out or you fill it out improperly. ell, here you can separate the myth from the reality with the 7 most common myths about the FAFSA form.

I Don’t Have to Include My Parents’ Income Info Because I Support Myself. Not necessarily. It all depends on whether you are considered to be a dependent of your parents according to Department of Education guidelines. If you are, then you need to include your parents’ income.

I Can’t Fill Out the Form Until My Parents (and I) File Tax Returns. This is not true, as some schools have FAFSA deadlines that are before April 15. If you cannot get the returns filed before the form is due, use estimated income figures based on the previous year’s return. You can always amend the FAFSA after the returns are filed.

My Grades Aren’t Good Enough to Get Financial Aid. This is not necessarily true. Although you do have to make “satisfactory academic progress” as defined by the school you attend to continue to receive financial aid, it is not a requirement for your initial application for your freshman year for most federal student aid programs.

I’m Too Old to Qualify. Not true; age is not a factor on your application.

The Application is Too Hard to Fill Out. Not so. In fact, you can do so online, which has several advantages, including:

  • Ease of submission
  • If you have already filed your tax return, you can transfer the data over to the form
  • Guided assistance to help you answer each question
  • The form will only serve up questions relevant to you, so no “N/A” answers

I Won't Qualify Because I (or My Parents) Make Too Much Money. It isn't as simple as an income cutoff (which doesn't exist anyway). Eligibility is based on several things besides income. In addition, your state or schools use the FAFSA to determine your eligibility for their aid. Fill it out and find out!

I filled it out for my freshman year, so I don’t have to do it again. Wrong! It’s a new year, a new tuition bill to pay, and so a new loan to apply for. You need to fill it out every year.

So don’t be intimidated by the FAFSA form; dig into it and get it done! But be sure to keep track of your borrowing and don’t make these mistakes when it comes to student loan borrowing!

More Information

If you are looking for more information about federal financial aid for college, then download my free book, Applying for Federal Financial Aid: The Definitive Guide for Students and Parents.

For more information about what happens after you graduate, get my free book, I Graduated; Now What? A Guide to Dealing with Your Student Loans.

You can also access the latest news on student loans, get answers to Frequently Asked Questions, and read articles in my Library. Continue to educate yourself as you go through the process of making smart decisions about college financing!

Steven J. Richardson
Bankruptcy, Collections, Student Loan, DUI and Traffic Court attorney in Woodbury, NJ.