What FAFSA is and Why Everyone Should Apply

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The FAFSA is now open as of October 1st, and I would hope everyone has been gathering their information to apply for the FAFSA.  But wait? What is the FAFSA?  I actually do hear this nearly everyday when I ask students if they are going to apply.  And it is completely understandable why many don’t know what it is.  So in the event you are unsure what it is and in case you think you might want to apply, here are some really good reasons why everyone should.

“Free Application for Federal Student Aid”

This application is actually important for every student that wants to attend college.  What the FAFSA determines is whether or not a student is eligible for federal aid in the form of Pell grants or student loans.  This is the ONLY way students will know whether they are eligible or not for Pell grants.  Well then, what is a Pell grant?

“A Pell Grant is a subsidy the U.S. federal government provides for students who need it to pay for college. Federal Pell Grants are limited to students with financial need, who have not earned their first bachelor’s degree, or who are enrolled in certain post-baccalaureate programs, through participating institutions.”

Basically, a Pell grant is free money that the government gives to students that show financial need, and then students do not have to pay that money back.  There are certain requirements that a student must meet when accepting a Pell grant (such as committing to going to college at least part-time) but most students have no problem fulfilling that part-time requirement.

If you do not qualify for a Pell grant, you may qualify for student loans.  The great thing about applying for this aid is that you DO NOT have to accept a student loan that might be offered to you through the FAFSA.  Even if you qualify for a student loan, there is no reason that you have to accept it other than if you NEED to.  If you have been able to secure funding through savings, scholarships, Pell grants, parents bank account, there is no reason that you have to accept a student loan.  It is just good to know that in the event that funding doesn’t completely come through, you may have a last resort if you need it.  Student loans do have low interest and easy re-payment plans if this is the path you take as many students do.

Students also should apply for the FAFSA if they are planning on applying for scholarships.  There are many scholarships that require you fill it out, especially those that are needs based.  For example, there is a great scholarship out there (due November 30th) called The Daniels Scholarship.  This one is financial needs based and they want to know what you qualify for regarding federal grants.  That way, The Daniels Scholarship (if you win their award) program can determine what you need from them once the grants run out.

Many colleges will also want you to apply for the FAFSA.  Once you do, the  information is sent to the schools of your choice for their review.  Many times schools will award Merit scholarships based on what your FAFSA might say.  If you just are just shy of qualifying for Pell grants, but almost qualify for a Merit scholarship, they may just award that student the Merit scholarship based on the information they received.

As you can see, there are a great many reasons why everyone should apply for the FAFSA.  ALL students of ALL levels of parent income should still apply. I would encourage all of you to apply today.  You never know what benefits might come from taking a half an hour to fill it out.  Hope this helps!

Here are a few links that you may find helpful:

Three reasons you should fill out the FAFSA

What is a Pell grant?


If you do have questions please remember my door is always open. (:



FAFSA Scholarship


Did you file a FAFSA? You are eligible to apply for the FAFSA scholarship. Head over to https://www.facebook.com/StepUpUtah/app/190322544333196/ and click on the white square that says “submit my scholarship application”. There are two different scholarships. One is if you attended a FAFSA Completion Night and the other is if you did the FAFSA on your own, but both require that you have completed and submitted your FAFSA for the 2017-2018 school year.

FAFSA: What To Do After

Once you have completed the FAFSA, and your college applications, you will begin to receive financial aid award letters from each college/university. I have attached a link to a video that was put together by StepUp Utah. It will go over how to compare and understand the award letters.


After the FAFSA: Comparing Financial Aid Award Letters and Accepting Aid

FAFSA Completion Open House

Monday, November 14th from 5pm-8pm

Head down to the CLC for the FAFSA Completion Open House. Here you will be able to get assistance with the FAFSA application and get all of your questions answered. If you have any questions in the mean time please come see me in the counseling office!

FAFSA Update

This year there are changes to the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) that I wanted to mention and make you aware of.

First off, students will now need a FSA ID. This is replacing the previously used PIN system that was in place. In order to fill out an application you will need this ID. Go to the following website to obtain an ID:

From here you should be able to finish the process by filling out all of the information. Once you have completed the FSA ID application you will be able to use your username and password immediately.

Second, there are changes as to when you can apply for FAFSA. In previous years students had to wait until January 1st of the year they were planning on attending college. This is still the case, but they have now created an earlier date of application. This new date is October 1st.

In short, if you are planning on attending college starting Fall of 2017 you can apply for FAFSA starting October 1st and you can use your parents tax information from 2015 OR you can file in January using tax information for 2016. But be warned, there are some scholarships that want/need you to apply in October in order to be eligible for those scholarships!


If there are any questions please come see me in the counseling office!  

“The Easiest Scholarship Ever” is Due TOMORROW!


SCHOLARSHIP ALERT: If you complete the FAFSA (every senior should), then you should apply for this Scholarship (every senior should) by tomorrow!

*For students who need help with their FAFSA
Deadline: April 20, 2015
Application: www.facebook.com/uheaa/app_190322544333196
-Come to the FAFSA Completion Open House on March 5 at the CLC.
-Fill out a Scholarship “Golden Ticket” at the event.
-Submit your 2015-2016 FAFSA.
-Keep your FAFSA confirmation number and your EFC numbers.
-Go to the Facebook Page (link above) and submit your scholarship application.
Award: $500-1,000 (multiple awards)

*For students who DO NOT need help with their FAFSA
Deadline: April 20, 2015
Application: www.facebook.com/uheaa/app_190322544333196
-Submit your 2015-2016 FAFSA.
-Keep your FAFSA confirmation number and your EFC numbers.
-Go to the Facebook Page (link above) and submit your scholarship application.
Award: $500 (multiple awards)

Do You Want Money for College? PROVE IT!

With the nation’s lowest rate of high school seniors completing application,
Utah kids miss out on grants, loans and scholarships.

Only 34 percent of high school seniors in the Beehive State complete the FAFSA. That number puts Utah dead last in the nation for its rate of FAFSA completion by high school seniors, according to a new report from the National Center for Educational Statistics and Department of Education. An analysis from NerdWallet reports that Utah students left a whopping $45.5 million in Pell Grants on the table last year, and key players don’t seem to know why. FAFSA can also be the path to scholarships from the state and colleges, and loans.

On March, 18, 2015, the Salt Lake Tribune published an article entitled “Why don’t Utah students want money for college?”  According to the article, there are several reasons:

  1. FAFSA myths.
  2. A debt-averse population.
  3. Students need to fill out an application every year.
  4. Access to information from school counselors.

Another reason that I would add to this list is that students have the misconception that they should not have to do anything in order to receive money for college.  I see this every day as I work with students who will not complete FAFSA or scholarship applications because it requires time and effort. But as I constantly remind them, the easiest and most time-efficient way to earn money for college is to complete these applications.

For example, if a student spends 1 hour completing a FAFSA application and they receive a $1,000 grant, they have earned $1,000 per hour…an amount that is impossible for a high school student to earn (unless they are earning it illegally). If that same student spends 10 hours completing 10 scholarship applications and receives one $500 scholarship, they have just earned $50 per hour.  Again, this is an amount that most high school students cannot earn…and if they can, please let me know how!

Please do not be one of the students who leaves money on the table.  Complete your FAFSA and Scholarship Applications TODAY!