College  |  November 23, 2021  |  Winnie Sun

Top 5 reasons to fill out the FAFSA from money expert Winnie Sun

What you’ll learn
  • Why the FAFSA is important
  • Why you should fill out a FAFSA
  • How much financial aid is available
  • What kind of aid is out there

I’ve helped families manage their money for nearly two decades. My advice for college-bound high school seniors, college, and grad students?

Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)—it could translate into hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

There’s serious money on the line

Filing a FAFSA is the single most important thing you can do to get money for college. It’s the gateway to more than $150 billion in college grants, work-study funds, and federal student loans, as well as certain state-based aid.

Apply for financial aid the fast, easy way

Sallie MaeSM and Frank have simplified the FAFSA® –and it's free!

• Takes just 7 minutes, vs 1 hour on
• Guides you through step-by-step
• Almost all who apply get some kind of aid

By clicking this link, you’ll go to our trusted partner Frank’s site. Any information you provide will be shared with Frank and will be covered under the terms of the Frank privacy policy.

Most students receive some type of financial aid, so you should fill out a FAFSA application even if you don't think you qualify. Some families assume they won't qualify for financial aid and don't even bother completing the FAFSA. This could be a huge mistake. In 2014 and 2015, students left $2.7 billion in financial aid on the table. It's so much money!

It’s free—and quick to complete

The first “F” in FAFSA stands for free. You don’t need to pay to file the FAFSA, so you want to watch out for sites that charge fees or make promises that sound too good to be true.

It takes about 21 minutes to complete your FAFSA application! That’s less time than it would take you to get caught up on your social media. The time you spend completing a FAFSA could translate into hundreds or even thousands of dollars that can help you pay for college.

It can be essential for some schools

The FAFSA isn’t just for people who want or need federal student loans. The purpose of the FAFSA is also to determine aid you won't have to pay back, like college scholarships, grants, and even work-study funding.

Finally, some private scholarships require a FAFSA as part of their application process. That's why completing a FAFSA is so important!

Get started

Another pro-tip? The FAFSA is first-come, first-served. Apply as soon as you can to take advantage of federal aid for college. Check out our Within Reach blog for more FAFSA tips!

Sallie Mae does not provide financial, tax, or legal advice and the information contained in this article does not constitute tax, legal, or financial advice. Sallie Mae does not make any claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in this article. Readers should consult their own attorneys or other tax advisors regarding any financial strategies mentioned in this article. These materials are for informational purposes only and do not necessarily reflect the views or endorsement of Sallie Mae. Reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.

Please note, Winnie Sun was compensated by Sallie Mae for this article but the views and opinions expressed herein are her own.