3 FAFSA® myths debunked

Don't fall for FAFSA® fiction 

You talk about a lot of things with your friends in college—classes, dining hall food, the sketchy bathrooms in the freshmen dorms. What about something you all might have in common—financial aid? A major hurdle that so many students deal with are their finances, and especially how they’re paying for school. There are lots of financial aid myths out there, but don’t let them trip you up—make sure you get all the financial aid you need for school.

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Filling out the FAFSA® is a must-do

If there’s one thing not to do in college, it’s fail to fill out the FAFSA® (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). According to How America Pays for College 2023, about 30% of families still aren’t submitting it. That’s way too many students and families missing out on federal aid.

For some, the application is too hard and confusing to them. For others, they’ve been misled by financial aid myths. Let’s set the record straight on what students should and should not believe about the FAFSA®.

Debunking 3 common financial aid myths

Myth 1. You have to pay to apply for the FAFSA®

College is expensive, but one thing that’s not is the FAFSA®. Remember that FAFSA® stands for FREE Application for Federal Student Aid—there’s no charge. The only way to apply is through the official site.

Myth 2. My family makes too much money for me to get aid

Don’t assume this is true—you’ll never know what you could be eligible for if you don’t apply! The FAFSA® isn’t just about federal student loans. It has more than $150 billion in grantswork-study funds, and state-based aid. Some scholarship programs also require that a FAFSA® be submitted, too. It’s always worth a try to see what aid might be there for you.

Myth 3. Only college freshmen need to apply for the FAFSA®

The FAFSA® is for every student planning on attending school the following academic year! The FAFSA® you filled out and the aid you got last year is only valid for one school year, not all the school years! College students should apply every year they’re in school—graduate students should, too!

Get FAFSA®-ready!

Now that you know all about the FAFSA®, spark a conversation about financial aid and normalize it among your friends.

One of the most important things to remember is that you should submit your FAFSA®  ASAP! A lot of financial aid is first-come, first-served, so it could pay off (literally) to get your application in quickly. The submission window typically opens October 1.

Use these tips and our FAFSA® guide to ensure that you and your friends get all the financial help possible to pay for school. Friends don’t let friends leave financial aid on the table!

footnote Sallie Mae does not provide, and these materials are not meant to convey, financial, tax, or legal advice. Consult your own financial advisor, tax advisor, or attorney about your specific circumstances.

footnote External links and third-party references are provided for informational purposes only. Sallie Mae cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information provided by any third parties and assumes no responsibility for any errors or omissions contained therein. Any copyrights, trademarks, and/or service marks used in these materials are the property of their respective owners.

footnote FAFSA® is a registered service mark of U.S. Department of Education, Federal Student Aid.

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