An important reminder for advisors whose clients have kids in college or plan to enroll them for next year: The Department of Education today began accepting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2019-2020 academic year.
Students must file the FAFSA, whose name is somewhat misleading, to qualify not only for federal student aid (in loans or grants) but also for state aid and school scholarships and grants. The FAFSA is required for subsidized and unsubsidized student loans as well as for Parent PLUS loans.
It should be filed as soon as possible because in many cases, loans and grants are awarded on a rolling basis and schools and states set different deadlines to qualify for financial aid and scholarships.
Despite the importance of the FAFSA, roughly 30% of undergraduate students, or close to 5.8 million, failed to file the form in 2016, according to the latest available data from a National Postsecondary Student Aid Study cited by a Savingforcollege.com report.
About half of those who didn’t file said they didn’t think they would qualify for aid, but that is not necessarily the case. Even if a student doesn’t qualify for need-based aid, they could qualify unsubsidized federal loans or merit-based aid from a college or state, and their parents may qualify for Parent PLUS loans — all requiring that a FAFSA be filed.