Figuring out just how you’re going to pay for college can be stressful. But not using all the resources that are available to help pay, just doesn’t make sense. According CNN Money, an analysis of government data has shown that 2 million students could have qualified for a need-based Pell Grant, but didn’t even bother to submit their FAFSA.
“Unfortunately, students are going to base decisions and parents are going to base decisions on what they hear out and about,” says Chris Bell, Director of Financial Aid at UMPI.
Bell says an example would be a student or parent basing their financial aid off their neighbors. They may have similar houses and lifestyles and if the neighbor doesn’t receive financial aid, then they won’t even bother applying. Bell says it’s not just based on income, but on the cost of the institution as well.
“If a student goes to a low cost school, they may not be eligible for what we call need-based financial assistance. However, if they go to a high-priced institution, it’s entirely possible that they will have a significant amount of free money, gift aid in order to help pay for their education,” says Bell.
Bell says the free application for financial aid becomes available on January 1st of each year. He says there’s not really a deadline to have it done, but he encourages everyone to fill it out as soon as possible. Bell says even though there’s not an actual deadline, institutions will have their own deadlines. So check with your school.
“Bottom line is, we always encourage every student to apply for financial aid. Make sure you’re not eligible before you assume you’re not eligible,” says Bell.