Is FAFSA Necessary?
High Schools Might Not Think So
by Kate Bauer
Many people that want to go to college start out by not knowing how they will pay for their education. This is because many high schools are not preparing them for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA. While questioning current and former students of local community or technical colleges, a surprising amount said the average student is unprepared for college tuition.
First, Kevin Mette, who went to Anoka Technical College, said he had his mother tell him about the FAFSA. He went on to say that the high school he went to told him nothing about it. Mette said that he had to go out of his way to find information out himself and had to rely on the FAFSA website to get further information. He says that without his mom he would “never have even known about it”, and that “other students might not be so lucky having a parent that will tell them.” Even with knowing what site to look at, he still had difficulty figuring out how to work the website itself.
Mike Lea, former Vermillion Community College student, said that he only knew to ask about the FAFSA in high school because of his family members telling him about it. Lea then took the initiative to talk to the Dean at his high school, and to have the school librarian walk him through the process. All students questioned stated they would not have been able to go to college without some kind of student aid.
Certainly, the FAFSA is the best way to qualify for student loans and grants. Immediately after getting accepted into any college, a student should fill out the FAFSA. Even if you plan on paying your own way through, you may qualify for grants or scholarships.
Every semester a student should fill it out regardless of financial need. Why pay for college out of your own pocket when you can get some help for free? The site a student should visit with a list of all the needed qualifications is on the FAFSA website featured here. It might be to late for this semester, but it’s a good idea to get a head start on the next.
A little known fact about student aid, is that the government generally expects a family to pay for half of a student’s college costs, unless financial need is proven. Even if a student lives on their own and pays for their own things, it is still possible that parents are expected to pay for tuition. If a student is under 24 years of age, they should pay careful attention to the qualifications for not relying on parental help.
The exceptions to the half tuition rule are: married, legally married but separated, emancipated, parental incomes at low levels, or having custody of a minor child. Students above the age of 24 could still be expected to pay for some tuition, but this depends on the income the student makes. A recent survey shows that most high school classes do not prepare you for this evaluation of your needs for tuition help in college.
Without student aid, many people will find college to be far less accessible to them. The first thing a student does after being accepted to a college is fill out a FAFSA. If your high school didn’t talk to you about it like many others have experienced, students should seek out: an adviser, a financial aid representative, a local librarian, or anyone else that can help them with filling it out.