By Barbie Martin, Indiana Commission for Higher Education

We often get asked if people should file the FAFSA if they aren’t going to qualify for federal financial aid. The answer in a word is YES!

FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid and it is the tool that is used to determine a student’s need for financial aid.

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First, for most families, filing the FAFSA is a fairly simple process. It generally takes 30 minutes or less to complete, assuming you have the necessary information on hand. For a list of documents you will need to file the FAFSA, click here. Even better, your information will be saved, so next year it will be even easier to complete.

Second, the FAFSA is still the best way to help you receive financial aid. Even if you don’t qualify for federal financial aid, there are many other grants and scholarships out there! The state of Indiana has several scholarships based on your major or other factors besides income. You may also qualify for Indiana’s EARN program, our version of work study, that gives you work experience and helps you network in your field.

Third, most colleges and universities require students to file the FAFSA in order to receive scholarships from the school. Additionally, many privately-sponsored scholarships also require recipients to file the FAFSA to be eligible.

Finally, if you do need to accept student loans to pay for college expenses, filing the FAFSA will give you access to federal student loans. Not only do federal loans usually have lower interest rates than private loans, but most also have a six-month payment grace period, and some don’t begin accruing interest until after graduation. Hopefully, you won’t need loans at all, but if you do, filing the FAFSA will help you get the best loans possible.

There are lots of resources to help you file. You can complete the FAFSA via mobile phone at FAFSA.gov or the myStudentAid mobile app. If you’re filing to attend school next year, you should file the 2020-21 FAFSA. You can also get individual help by calling the professionals at INvestEd at 317-715-9007 for assistance.

Bottom line, it’s worth the time to file the FAFSA. It doesn’t cost you anything to file, and it just might provide free money for college! So don’t delay! Indiana’s deadline to receive state financial aid is April 15, 2020.

While most in-person FAFSA filing events have been cancelled due to COVID-19, Learn More Indiana is hosting a FAFSA Frenzy Virtual Event! Join us on Saturday, April 4 from 1 – 3 PM ET to get free FAFSA help. We hope to see you there!

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We know that many Hoosier students, families and educators are coping with school day closures and elearning for the next few weeks in response to COVID-19. Over the next month, our blog will be dedicated to college and career readiness activities that can be done from home. And, don’t forget to explore our classroom materials page for grade-specific college, career and cost activities.

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