I am here to tell you that there is nothing to worry about.

As a college advisor, I hear a lot of misconceptions about FAFSA. I am often faced with the fact that people think that filing a FAFSA means that the student is taking a loan. Applying to the FAFSA is a way to find out if students are eligible for a variety of financial aid options, including what is known as a Pell grant. The maximum grant amount this year is $ 6,495 per year and it is renewed while the student is enrolled in college. These grants should never be repaid. Last year Michigan students left $ 89 million in federal Pell Grants without falling FAFSA. There are also loan options that open after filing a FAFSA, but they are not automatic and optional!

I also see that many parents and guardians are concerned that their tax information is being used to create their students ’FAFSA profiles. Let me remind you that their information does not become public. The only people who see their financial information are the Federal Student Services and the IRS, and they only work with information that parents / guardians have already provided in their tax returns. Financial information is used to calculate a student’s eligibility for Pell grants and other assistance.

I worked with a lot of students who said something like, “I’d like to go to college, but I just can’t afford it.” Many of the same students after graduating from FAFSA found themselves eligible for full Pell grants. This, as well as other features such as Learning Incentive Program, Zone of Promises Scholarships and other needs-based financial aid may be the difference between getting a college degree or not. A college diploma or certificate can be the difference between being stuck in a dead end job and gaining access to well-paid emerging industries.

I never heard a student say, “Damn, I’m sorry to drop this FAFSA.” It’s free and doesn’t obligate you to anything. I witnessed more than a dozen elderly people shedding tears in my office when they learned there was a way to afford an education after high school. I have seen all the certificates of skilled professions covered thanks to FAFSA, which opens the way to a good career and economic mobility. I had students who said they attended a public college for free or all of their university tuition was covered by financial aid opportunities that came from FAFSA filing. If possible, why not at least give it a chance?

This spring, students must graduate from FAFSA online as soon as possible. To maximize access to public financial aid, including a Michigan Competitive Scholarship or Michigan Study Grant, students must submit their FAFSA to a priority term in Michigan that was recently extended to May 1. If you have questions, contact a high school counselor, college counselor, or local college / university. Students can also visit at A virtual assistant to access the college for information on financial aid resources.

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