Can I count on scholarships, or should I file the FAFSA?
If you are like 75% of parents in a recent poll, you think that you child has the grades or the talent to win a college scholarship. The truth is far different. Only about 25% of total gift aid (scholarships and grants) is based on student ability. The rest is based on need.
- Apply for need aid by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA can be completed electronically at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Reminders to get you off on the right foot:
- File your FAFSA as soon as you have an accurate 2006 income estimate. Don’t wait for the college’s deadline.
- Use FAFSA on the Web if at all possible. It is faster and more accurate than the paper version. The data checks that are imbedded in the Web FAFSA make it difficult to submit incorrect answers.
- The most common problem with the paper FAFSA is that it fails the edit checks, requiring you to go back and forth with the processing center until you get it right. Since financial aid is often awarded on a first come, first served basis, this can be a real disadvantage.
- If you are going to complete the FAFSA on the Web, you need to apply for PIN numbers at least two days prior to when you plan to submit the form.
- Pay careful attention to the “Before You Start” check list that tells you which documents to have on hand. Completion is much easier (and faster) if you follow this good advice.