As you already know, college is expensive! Many families across the country are kept awake at night struggling to figure out how they will afford to put their kids through college.
If you are one of the lucky few that are financially secure for such an expenditure, you may be certain that you will not qualify for financial aid. You may ask yourself, “Can I even submit a FAFSA if I’m not even going to qualify?”
While completing a FAFSA is certainly not a requirement for college admittance and attendance, there are five compelling reasons that illustrate why you should still submit one, even if you are able to afford college:
1) You may believe you are not needy of assistance based on your family’s yearly income, but aid eligibility is actually determined by objective financial criteria. Until you actually apply for aid, you will not know for sure whether you qualify. Also, financial security is very subjective; we all know families that make a modest income that live well beyond their means and feel secure, and families that make a significant amount of money that struggle to keep up with their expenses. A family cannot always judge its own neediness accurately.
2) In life, things happen, and that includes changes in financial circumstances. A job loss can wreak havoc on a family’s security when it comes to money. Many colleges will not accept FAFSA applications submitted beyond their given deadlines, even if a family’s financial situation is affected dramatically. For this reason, it is a good idea to keep a FAFSA on file, enabling you to request additional funding down the road should your circumstances change.
3) Per government regulations, a student must submit a FAFSA in order to take advantage of any federal student loans, even non-need-based loans.
4) Colleges vary in many ways, and this includes whether or not they require FAFSAs even for non-need-based scholarships. Some colleges require these in order to even be considered for these types of scholarships, and some do not. Your safest bet is to check with your chosen college to determine whether you will need to complete one or not.
5) Many families are afraid to submit a FAFSA because they believe that doing so will diminish their child’s likelihood of admission to college. Certainly for several colleges, this concern is legitimate.
However, the majority of colleges either adopt an admissions practice that is need-blind (where your family’s financial need is not considered at all in the decision making) or need-aware (where there is a chance your finances will play a role) when considering your child.
Even if your college is need-aware, your finances usually only come into play when the decision to accept your child is not cut and dry. For the vast majority of students, this is not an issue.
Finally, submitting a FAFSA alone will not affect your chances of admission for many schools; you must actually qualify for aid in order for your chances to be affected in any way.