Don’t overlook free money.
That’s unfortunately happening too often as students and families try to figure out how to pay for college.
A recent study from the U.S. Department of Education concluded that nearly 40% of full-time students who attend community college don’t fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Even more amazing, 29% students with family incomes of less than $10,000 don’t bother.
Many community college students would qualify for federal Pell Grants — that’s free cash — if they just filled out the FAFSA.
Even if your family wouldn’t qualify for a Pell Grant — incomes typically can’t exceed $40,000–you might be eligible for state aid. Some states award cash grants for needy families, but others award money based on academic achievement.
A family can make more than you might think possible to qualify for some state programs. For instance, solidly middle-class California students can receive Cal Grants that pay for tuition at state schools or can pay for up to $10,000 for tuition at private colleges and universities in California. For a family of four, a student could be eligible if the household income doesn’t exceed the mid-to-high $70,000 range.
To qualify for state or federal aid, you should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Families with high school seniors will complete this form beginning January 1 or later. Once you file the form electronically with the federal government it will forward the information to your state.
You can learn much more about financial aid by reading my book, The College Solution.