Do We Have to File the FAFSA?
QUESTION - My son did not go this semester to college but would like to go to the spring semester. Do you have to have a FAFSA form filled out to go to college?
ANSWER - There is rarely a requirement that a student apply for financial aid to attend a college, but there may be one to be considered for scholarships. So yes, your son CAN probably go without applying this year if he wants to.
I would, however, advise you not to - that is not to forego applying this year. Although you are late in the process, there are certain programs that are entitlements he might qualify for such as grant programs. In addition, he will qualify for federal loan programs that may not now seem necessary, but could later become critical to him and you. By filing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid for those who don’t know) now (instead of waiting til next year) you will get an idea what he might expect next year, in terms of an EFC. EFC’s are subject to change, so there is no guarantee that one year’s will remain the same in the following year.
Remember, an EFC is an Estimated Family Contribution. According to “Funding Education Beyond High School”, a free publication from the U.S. Department of Education (download it by “Googling” the title – be sure to choose the 2009-2010 edition), “The EFC is a measure of your family’s financial strength and indicates how much of your and your family’s financial resources (for dependent students) should be available to help pay for your education.”
Since it’s mid-year, aid availability may be limited and depends on several factors, including institutional policy and fund availability. But go ahead and see, he may qualify. If nothing else, you'll have a better idea what to expect when he applies next year. Do, however, have him contact his school about the possibility of any scholarships that are available at mid-year.
I hope this helps. Keep me informed, I'd like to know how things turn out for you/him...
On a completely different front, I read an interesting article last weekend in the Sunday Oklahoman, entitled “Teens put College Atop List of Things Worth Saving for” (10-11-09, p. 4C). It reported on a TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. survey that found 62% of teens between 14 and 19 save their money for college. It also reported that “78 percent of teens said they want to establish a plan that involves splitting the cost of education.
I think I can hear the sound of parents across the country rejoicing! I hope the people rejoicing have been saving and are able to be a part of the “splitting”!
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