How a website charges $80 to fill out a free application

Let there be a special ring of hell created for these websites:

Applying for federal help to pay for college is supposed to be free. It’s right there in the name of the form students fill out to qualify: the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

But at least two websites—FAFSA.com and FAFSA-application.com—charge almost $80 to fill out essentially the same form the Education Department offers for free.

Now the federal government might be able to crack down. The Education Department'sOffice of Student Aid successfully trademarked “FAFSA” earlier this month, which could stop companies from using the term for marketing purposes.

  • Will: What video games do you like?
  • Nico: I like that one racing game, FAFSA or whatever
  • Will: You mean Forza???
  • Nico: Yeah. What was I saying???
  • Will: FAFSA. Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
  • Nico: Oh, I guess I like that too then

anonymous asked:

My parents refuse to fill out my FAFSA form. Does this mean I can't get financial help from it?? I'm freaking out about affording college and I feel like I should just give up on going and just work instead. Is college needed to survive? What jobs can I get without it?? Sorry for so many questions, I just have nobody to ask.

Check out these resources:

Filling out the FAFSA

The FAFSA, though incredibly important and essential, is difficult to fill out and understand sometimes. Hopefully I can clear up a few things and make the whole process easier. Right now your FAFSA should already be filled out, but if you are a senior in high school (or even if you’re already in college) it’s important to understand why you need to fill out the FAFSA as well as what it is.

What exactly is the FAFSA?

The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is an application that is filled out to determine a students level of financial need. It must be filled out annually and contains numerous questions involving the college(s) you want to attend or are attending, the income of the students parents, if the student has drug violations, etc etc. Eligibility for aid is determined by the previous years tax return. 

Documents Needed

When the time comes to complete the FAFSA, make sure you sit down with your parents because you’ll need a lot of information from them. The things that you will need are: your social security number, your drivers license number (if you have one), alien registration number (if you are not a US citizen), records of investments (stocks and business assets), Federal student aid pin (you’ll create one), bank statements, records of untaxed income (child support, etc), and federal tax including your W2′s. 

Filling out the FAFSA as an independent 

To be an independent student on the FAFSA, you must fulfill certain criteria: either be 24 years old, be an orphan, be a ward of the court, be in foster care or ward of the court when 13 years or older, be an emancipated minor, be a veteran of the Armed Forces or serving on active duty, be a grad student, be married, or be a homeless youth. As an independent you are given more aid than a dependent. If you need to switch your status from dependent to independent, it is difficult but not impossible. 

Why should I fill this out?

Some people look at the FAFSA and decide not to fill it out because it’s too much work. Don’t be that person. More people are guaranteed aid than you think and filling out the FAFSA is free! (If you go to a site that wants you to pay for the FAFSA, it is a scam. The real website is https://fafsa.ed.gov/. The FAFSA application really only takes about 30 minutes to fill out if you have everything you need on hand. Don’t be discouraged. If you are afraid you won’t be eligible because your family has a good income, still fill it out. The FAFSA takes into account the number of people in your household as well as if you have other siblings in college. It only benefits you!

Still Confused?

If you are filling out the FAFSA and become confused, don’t worry! Often if you google it, other people have the same issue and there are answers. Websites such as fastweb help explain portions of the FAFSA and help you get through it. I hope this breakdown helped! Have any questions? Ask us!

Ten Ways To Pay For College Right Now

Sometimes, the hardest part is simply knowing where to begin. Here are some tips:

1) Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, even if you don’t think you’ll qualify.

2) Apply for national grants. Options include Pell Grants, Academic Competitiveness Grants and National SMART Grants.

3) Apply for local scholarships. Civic organizations and religious institutions often have meaningful amounts of aid to dole out.

4) Getting into more than one school translates to a higher likelihood of receiving a big financial aid package.

5) Bargain! Even schools that only provide need-based aid sometimes come up with drastically different offers.

6)  AmeriCorps, Peace Corp, National Health Services Corps and ROTC programs offer college money in exchange for a service commitment.

7) Look abroad. At Scotland’s St. Andrews, U.S. students pay only $21,650.

8) Stay home. Starting out at a low-cost community college and transferring to a four-year college for the final two years will wipe away a hefty chunk of room and board costs, as well as some tuition.

9)  The American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit are two excellent options.

10)  Don’t forget to consult your local expert – guidance counselors are often aware of options you may not have considered; best of all, their help is free.

Read more.

How to Obtain a FAFSA Dependency Override for LGBTQ College Students

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a mandatory document for college students who wish to receive student aid (including Pell Grants, student loans, and federal work-study).  One of the considerations taken by the FAFSA is whether a student is dependent on their guardians or not, as a student’s dependency status affects how much and which types of student aid they may receive.  Because of this, a student’s dependency status can be a large boon or barrier to receiving an education.   The FAFSA’s questions for determining dependency status in 2014-2015 can be found here.

The Department of Education expects some level of familial support to handle the costs of attending college when students are designated as “dependent.”  There are times that an individual’s situation is not accurately represented by the questions asked by the FAFSA, however.  For these situations, federal aid administrators have the ability to override an individuals “dependent” status and mark them as “independent.”  These dependency overrides are handled on a case-by-case basis when a student can provide documentation that demonstrates extraordinary circumstances.

An unfortunate truth is that many LGBTQ youth have lost the support of their families and will not receive the funds the Department of Education anticipates when determining the student’s loan, scholarship, and grant eligibility.  This can make paying for college overwhelmingly difficult or impossible for some LGBT youth.   This is one such extraordinary circumstance that the Department of Education accounts for.

In the Dear Colleague letter pertaining to documentation for dependency overrides,  Dr. Eduardo Ochoa, Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education, offered this example of a good case that could be made for an LGBT student to receive a dependency override:

During her first year of college, a student came out as a lesbian. Her parents have since refused to have any contact with her and have forbidden her from returning to the family home. The student has used the school’s counseling resources. To document this situation, the student gives the school permission to contact the school’s counseling center to obtain a letter from a counselor. The institution may consider the resulting letter acceptable documentation. The school must retain the letter in the student’s file.

(the full text of this Dear Colleague letter may be found here)

If your situation is comparable to the one described above, or if you are unsure if you qualify for a dependency override, you should contact your institution’s office of financial aid for a meeting with a financial aid counselor.  Documentation is very important for dependency overrides, and while the nature of that documentation may vary from case to case, the more you are able to present at your meeting with a financial aid counselor the better your odds of receiving an override are.

If you have any textual communication from your guardians confirming that they will not support your costs of attendance due to being a member of the LGBTQ community, or if a reputable third party can provide a letter affirming what your guardians have said or done, this can make the case much easier for you and your counselor.  A guardian’s refusal to support their child’s cost of attendance alone is not enough for a dependency override—it must be the result of “extraordinary circumstances, including cases of abandonment by parents, abusive family environments that threaten students’ health or safety, or a student being unable to locate his/her parents.”


“Compared to a high school diploma, just getting a degree from a two-year school, going to a community college and getting an associate’s degree could earn you more than $300,000 over the course of your lifetime. And a four-year degree earns you a million dollars more than if you just had a high school degree. Think about that. A million dollars—that’s real money. So one of the things that we’re trying to do is to make it easier for you to access free money for college—to figure out how you can pay for your college without having a mountain of debt. And the key thing…is to fill out your FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid…What the FAFSA does is it puts you in the running for scholarships, grants, loans, work-study jobs, all to help you pay for college. And we’ve made it simpler than ever. And it’s available right now at FAFSA.gov.” —President Obama speaking today on ensuring every student has the opportunity to realize their potential.

anonymous asked:

How the HELL am i gonna pay for college

Relax. Most students are not paying for college out of pocket. Here’s how to get the funds:

  1. Grants: Fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Grants are essentially free money from the government. You don’t have to pay them back unless you drop out or fail your courses.
  2. Scholarships: Apply for every scholarship you can. After you narrow down your school options, talk to an academic adviser to ask about the specific scholarships they have available. Check out our blog: Tips to find and apply for college scholarships. 
  3. Community/Junior College: There is nothing wrong with getting your basics done at a community college and then transferring to a four year university. Community college is a lot less expensive. A benefit of  community colleges, it that they have smaller student to faculty ratios, which gives you more time with your professors.
  4. Loans: This is where college students can get in trouble. Only take out loans that you NEED. It is so easy to check accept on loans without thinking of the consequences. The best way to deal with loans is to use them as a last resort. If your grants only cover your tuition, a loan might be necessary for your textbooks (but don’t splurge on Macbooks & new clothes.This isn’t free money.)  Generally, repayment starts six months after you graduate (that includes the monthly interest percentage). Read our blogs: 5 Tips to avoid crushing student debt , and Student loans are not a luxury.
  5. Installment Plans: Most schools have installment plans, where you make a payment at the beginning of the semester & one mid-semester.This makes it a little easier if you are working to pay for your schooling. Talk to your financial aid office when you choose your school to assess if this is the best route for you.
  6. Start Saving: If you are not receiving grants/scholarships & you don’t want to take out loans, working & saving up is your best option. You don’t have to start college as soon as you graduate. If taking a year off to save up money keeps you debt free in the future, why not? Working through college is how most students get by. Here is a helpful blog: 3 Tips for working during college.
6 Tricks That Help Me Save More Than 24K Per Year in College

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FAFSA closes the door to college snooping
Schools will no longer get valuable inside information about applicants from this federal financial aid application

For years, the federal government has been delivering inside information to colleges about an applicant’s school preferences that has harmed some students’ chances for admission and awards.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) has been serving as a tip sheet to colleges by sharing with them the schools that a child was applying to, as well as the school order that a teenager listed on the aid application. Most students list their schools in order of preference, which some colleges have used to make admission and aid decisions.

Most teenagers and their parents had no idea that the federal government wastipping off schools, but those who learned about this practice have been alternatively livid and scared about how this information was being used. With pressure building for the U.S. Department of Education to stop sharing what should be confidential information, the department has announced that it will end the practice beginning with the 2016-17 FAFSA.

A Department of Education official provided the following explanation in an email for the policy change to CBS MoneyWatch:

We are making this change because of information we have received that some colleges were using the listing of the other schools in a manner that is not appropriate. For example, some colleges use that information in their admissions decision process – looking to see if any of their competitors were listed. Similarly, some use the information to determine if and how much institutional aid to provide – why spend money if the student would likely come to my school anyway? We also determined that there is no legitimate student aid need for such information.

Before making this decision, the official said the department conducted extensive research and consulted with various stakeholders including colleges, state agencies and others in the higher-ed industry.

beautifulintroversion  asked:

I am a junior and I want to apply for scholarships but I can't find any through my research, any suggestions ?

Apply for every scholarship you can.

After you narrow down your school options, talk to an academic adviser to ask about the specific scholarships they have available.Check out our blog post: Tips to find and apply for college scholarships.

  • Use websites like Fastweb  and BigFuture to help you find scholarships based on your academic profile including your GPA, extra curricular activities, intended major, demographics, etc.
  • This website is the U.S. Department of Labor’s scholarship search tool.
  • Watch out for scams. (You should never have to pay to apply for a scholarship. You should never release private bank or social security info.)

If you aren’t already receiving grants, they can help a lot. Fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Grants are essentially free money from the government. You don’t have to pay them back unless you drop out or fail your courses.