HomeLatest NewsWhen to File the FAFSA to Get More Financial Aid for College

When to File the FAFSA to Get More Financial Aid for College

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

Whether it’s due to belt-tightening or the promise of federal student loan forgiveness, families are suddenly paying more attention to financial aid for college.

More than half of parents of college-bound students, or 58%, did not plan to apply for federal aid, but Now their minds have changedAccording to a new report from Discover Student Loans.

“Given the economic uncertainty surrounding inflation and fears of a recession right now, it’s understandable that some families are feeling the impact of paying for college and reconsidering applications for federal aid,” said Rich Finn, vice president of Discover Student Loans.

That’s where the Free Application for Federal Student Aid comes in.

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As tuition rises, 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 about a quarter of the cost, and student loans make up most of the rest, according to Sallie Mae’s annual “How America Pays for College” report.

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

But students must complete the FAFSA to access any aid. For the 2023-2024 school year, FAFSA filing season begins Oct. 1 — and the sooner students file, the better.

The earlier families fill out the FAFSA, the better their chances of receiving aid, Castellano said, since some financial aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis or from programs with limited funding.

Scholarships are key to college affordability

Miljan Zivkovic iStock | Getty Images

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

According to Education Lenders, scholarships are a key source of funding, yet only 60% of families use them.

6 out of 10 who used the scholarship received it directly from their student’s school. These students received an average of $6,335.

Most families who did not use the scholarship said they never applied.

Why don’t more families fill out the FAFSA?


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