FAFSA Facts or Myths?

  1. The FAFSA for the college year beginning Fall 2018 will be available October 1, 2017 and will use information from your (parents and student) 2016 tax returns. -FACT

Changes to the FAFSA process mean that you no longer have to wait to file income taxes before submitting your FAFSA. You can’t choose which tax return to use.  You must use the tax year stipulated on the FAFSA form.

2. Doesn’t matter to me that the FAFSA is available in October, I still have plenty of time to file. – MYTH
The fact is, you are more likely to get aid if you submit the FAFSA soon after October 1st. Some schools have fall priority deadlines for FAFSA completion! When you’re applying for financial aid, you want to be first in line. The sooner you can get it in, the better. Schools may run out of funding and not have any aid money left for stragglers.

3. My family makes too much money for me to qualify for aid. – MYTH
Fact: There are no income limits for receiving need-based aid because eligibility is determined not only by what the FAFSA estimates you can pay but also the cost of college.  You won’t know until you try. Remember that the higher the cost of the college to which you are applying the more need you may have.  AND for some colleges and universities, the FAFSA may be required even for merit aid!  The FAFSA is also used for some private scholarships and state aid.

4. The FAFSA is too hard to fill out. – MYTH
The FAFSA can be tricky.  If you file on your own, make sure to have student and parent social security numbers, legal names, marriage dates, tax and asset information.  AND there are places you can get help.  Check to see if Get2College or your local community college is hosting a FAFSA Completion Day at your high school. If not, contact one of our Get2College Centers (www.get2college.org) for a free appointment either in-person or by remote computer access where we can assist you regardless of your location.  And the FAFSA hotline at 1-800-4FEDAID is always available.

 5. I support myself, so I don’t have to include parent info on the FAFSA. – MYTH

Reality: This is not necessarily true. Even if you support yourself and file taxes on your own, you may still be considered a dependent student for federal student aid purposes.  You will still have to use parents’ income and asset information. You can preview the dependency questions at StudentAid.gov/dependency.

6. I already completed the FAFSA so I don’t need to complete it again. – MYTH
You have to fill it out the FAFSA every year if you get any need-based aid, and you need to continue to meet priority deadlines.

7. The FAFSA is only for Pell grants and I probably don’t qualify. – MYTH
Your FAFSA information is used to award not only federal grant, but also some state grants, and numerous scholarships from the college or university and even private scholarships. You won’t know what you could receive unless you apply!

8. I can fill out the FAFSA at any online site that has the application. – MYTH
Beware of sites that ask for a fee!  There is only one official FAFSA form online at fafsa.gov. FAFSA stands for the FREE Application for Federal Student Aid. You should never pay money to file this application. Stay away from websites that aren’t official, especially if they request a payment.

9. Submitting the FAFSA means that the IRS may audit our tax returns. – MYTH
The FAFSA uses tax information to help colleges determine the student’s family’s ability to pay. The FAFSA is a document of the U.S. Department of Education, not the Internal Revenue Service.

10. Submitting the FAFSA commits me to a student loan. – MYTH
Loans are considered part of financial aid because they help to lessen the overall cost, which otherwise may have been paid out-of-pocket by the student. If you are awarded a student loan in a financial aid award package, you always have the right to decline the loan or reduce your loan if you do not need the entire amount.

Check to see if Get2College is hosting a FAFSA Completion Day at your high school. Check out our virtual resources, send us a chat message or contact one of our Get2College Centers for an appointment either in-person or by remote computer access where we can assist you regardless of your location:

Gulf Coast Get2College Center, Ocean Springs, 228.875.4441 or gulfcoast@get2college.org
Metro Jackson Get2College Center, Jackson, 601.321.5533 or jackson@get2college.org
North Mississippi Get2College Center, Southaven, 662.349.2789 or nms@get2college.org