Every year people ask if they should complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) if they know they won’t qualify for financial aid. The answer is Yes!
In general, completing the FAFSA isn’t difficult or time consuming. You might find that the toughest part is coordinating a time with your student to get it done.
4 Reasons to complete the FAFSA when you don’t think you’ll qualify for aid:
Establish a baseline
First, complete the FAFSA so you establish a baseline. While no one wants to think about it, bad things happen to good people. Anything from losing a job, to an illness or death in family can strike a family and drastically change their financial circumstances. If you need to go back to a school and ask for reconsideration due to a change in circumstances, it helps to have a baseline.
Keep your options open
The FAFSA is also the application for federal direct student loans. While subsidized federal loans are need-based, unsubsidized loans are not based on need. Federal student loans are also not based on credit history, they have a fixed rate, repayment is deferred until 6 months after the student leaves full-time student status and there are some protections available on federal student loans that aren’t usually available on private loans. Completing the FAFSA gives the option but not the obligation to take a federal student loan.
Might be required for merit awards
Some schools will not consider a student for any financial awards – even merit awards – without the FAFSA.
You could be surprised
Submitting the FAFSA results in the calculation of an Expected Family Contribution. Even with significant assets, some families will qualify for financial aid depending on the school, the size of the family and other factors.