85% of students don’t know the FAFSA determines free aid

The Free Federal Student Aid Application (FAFSA) opens the door to financial aid, including scholarships, work-study programs, and student loans. Unfortunately, many students have misconceptions about the FAFSA, which could cost them valuable financial support.

Student Loan Hero surveyed over 1,000 undergraduates to test their knowledge and understanding of the FAFSA and the overall financial aid process. We have found that many students misunderstand this crucial form and may therefore miss out on financial aid – or take on more debt than they need to.

Main conclusions

  • 85% of students did not know that the FAFSA determines eligibility for free help such as scholarships and work-study in addition to loans. (Read more)
  • 41% of students did not know FAFSA advance filing increases their chances of getting more financial aid. (Read more)
  • 43% have the wrong impression that you have to accept the total student loan amount you are eligible. (Read more)
  • FAFSA is a crucial part of financial aid, but 20% of undergraduates do not intend to terminate the FAFSA This year. (Read more)
  • 58% of undergraduates have cried over the cost of their education, because 47% say they have considered giving up due to exorbitant tuition and / or living costs. (Read more)
  • 84% of students contacted their school financial aid office for help, and of this group, 59% had problems contacting a representative in the office. (Read more)

85% don’t know the FAFSA can get them free financial aid

The FAFSA opens the door to different types of financial aid, including scholarships, work-study and student loans. Unfortunately, 85% of the students we surveyed were unaware that the FAFSA determines eligibility for free donations, and not just loans.

Likewise, about half (49%) were unaware that this also determined eligibility for federal grants, and 78% were unaware that it did the same for the federal work-study program.

When asked what the FAFSA is for, only 53% of students surveyed chose the correct answer: determine the amount and types of financial aid a student is entitled to.

Additionally, more than one in four students (27%) believe that the main goal of the FAFSA is to provide financial aid to students under a certain income – but although that statement is part of what the FAFSA does , that’s not the whole story.

Regardless of income, there are reasons to submit a FAFSA. On the one hand, any student in an eligible program can benefit from certain types of aid, such as unsubsidized federal student loans. And not only is the FAFSA the source of information for states and schools distributing these different types of financial aid, it’s also worth submitting your FAFSA in case your financial situation changes during the year.

41% Don’t Know Filing FAFSA Early May Increase Chances Of Getting Help

Not only is it a good idea for every student to complete the FAFSA regardless of their income, but it is also a good practice to submit it as early as possible.

The FAFSA opens on October 1 of each year for the following school year. Some federal and state grants are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, so filing early can increase your chances of getting more financial aid.

Unfortunately, 41% of students did not know that it is better to report early, with women (45%) being slightly more likely not to have this information than men (38%).

In fact, 42% of those planning to file this year do not plan to do it as soon as possible. While these students will race for financial aid and loans, they may unknowingly reduce their financial aid while waiting to file.

43% think you should accept all student loans offered to you

After you have submitted the FAFSA and accepted to college, you will receive a financial aid award letter. This award letter details the amount of assistance for which you are eligible, including scholarships and student loans.

You don’t have to borrow every student loan available to you. In fact, it’s a good idea to only take on the minimum amount of debt you need for your education. Despite this, 43% of students believe that you should accept the full amount of the student loan you are entitled to.

This misconception was highest among black college students (52%) – followed by Latino college students (48%), Asian college students (46%), and white college students (34%) – possibly due to a number relatively large number of first generation students in the community. This could cause students to take on more debt than they need.

Even if your offer of financial aid is presented as a “reward,” remember that you do not need to borrow all (or even none) of the student loans that are offered to you. Calculate exactly how much you need to borrow for your education and use our student loan calculator to see what the repayment will look like.

If the amount seems expensive to you, consider applying for scholarships or opting for a cheaper school.

1 in 5 students do not plan to complete the FAFSA this year

Given these misconceptions about the FAFSA, it’s no surprise that some students don’t consider submitting this important form at all. According to our survey, 20% of undergraduates either did not intend to complete FAFSA this year or were unsure whether they would.

Among this group, 33% think that they will not be able to claim any financial assistance. As mentioned above, the FAFSA determines eligibility for both need-based and non-need-based aid – there is no income threshold, so it’s worth every student. fill.

Another FAFSA-related obstacle for students could be confusion around the form itself. Over 40% of students think it is difficult to complete the FAFSA, and 20% of students are unsure of how to complete the FAFSA.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by this important form of financial assistance, these resources may help:

You can also find valuable information on the Federal Student Aid website or get free advice with a service like Frank. Once the process begins, you may find that the FAFSA is simpler than you think.

Tuition fees made 58% of students cry

The cost of tuition has risen steadily year on year over the past decades – a trend that has made many students cry. In fact, more than half of respondents (58%) said they cry over the cost of college education, with 69% women and 46% men.

The cost of college has been particularly stressful for Latino students, 66% of whom say they cried over the expense. This compares to 61% of white students, 54% of black students, and 50% of Asian students.

Additionally, almost half (47%) of college students considered dropping out because of the cost of their education and / or living expenses. This number was also highest among Latino students (53%), followed by white students (47%), black students (44%) and Asian students (34%).

But while submitting to the FAFSA is a big financial milestone for any student, applying for a scholarship can also be helpful – according to our survey, however, 20% of students have never applied for a scholarship.

This number was higher among first-generation college students (26%) than among those whose own parent (s) had attended college (18%).

59% of students had difficulty reaching their financial aid office

While a school’s financial aid office is a crucial resource, many students (59%) say they have had problems getting in touch with a representative in the office. The main obstacle they encountered was the long wait times.

When asked to rate their school’s financial aid office on a scale of one to five (five being the most helpful and competent), more than half (52%) gave it a rating of 3 or less.

Likewise, more than one in five students (23%) said they didn’t think their college cared about their ability to afford an education.

Not only should your financial aid office be available to educate you about your financing options, but they should also help you if you need to appeal your financial aid offer.

It is possible to appeal, but 30% of students ignore it, according to our findings. This is especially true among first generation college students compared to those whose parents attended university (37% versus 27%).

Not only is it a good idea for students to submit to the FAFSA every year, but it’s worth reading on how to appeal for your financial aid if it fails. This guide to appeals for financial assistance explains more.

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