Common FAFSA Myths

Many colleges require families requesting financial aid to submit their FAFSA within the next few weeks. If you are unsure what FAFSA means, read a previous blog post. Now that you understand this financial aid form, let’s discuss a few popular myths associated with the FAFSA.

MYTH #1: I need to file my taxes before submitting the FAFSA.
• False. A family can submit their FAFSA by providing a reasonable estimate of their 2014 income taxes. The United States Department of Education works with the Internal Revenue Service to help connect a family’s FAFSA information with their tax return once submitted. The earlier the FAFSA is submitted, the sooner the financial aid packages will be sent by schools.

MYTH #2: Families that make too much money should not complete a FAFSA.
• False. There is no income ceiling to prevent a family from qualifying for federal student aid. There are several factors that go into the financial aid report besides money. Information such as size of family and the number of children concurrently in college. According to Sallie Mae, the typical family earning more than $100,000 received $5,451 in grants and scholarships during the 2012 academic year. Also, the FAFSA is only for federal student aid. Colleges can and will give out their own aid, such as merit scholarships. Most schools will require a completed FAFSA in order to award this scholarship. The FAFSA is simply a starting point.

MYTH #3: Colleges only look at what is stated on the FAFSA, though my situation has changed.
• False. The Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) is only a government recommendation. Parents are encouraged to contact the financial aid office at each college to appeal their financial aid package. This office can make adjustments if there have been changes to a family’s income or assets. Examples of items that may not show up on the FAFSA; loss of a job, using savings to start a new business, medical bills and/or having another child.

MYTH #4: If both parents are divorced and remarried, all of the parents’ information must be entered on the FAFSA.
• False. The information that should be entered on the FAFSA is that of the parent the student has lived with more than 50% of the time within the last 12 months. In addition, if that parent is remarried, that step-parent’s financial information MUST be included along with the student’s tax information, if they filed an income tax. Unfortunately, the student cannot choose to enter the information of the parent/step-parent that makes the least amount of money to secure a lower EFC.

As you can see, all the myths were false. Do not believe everything you hear from people who have completed the FAFSA in the past. If you need correct answers to other college financial aid myths or perhaps have other college admission questions, Contact Us.

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Thomas Jaworski is the lead consultant of Quest College Consulting. He is an Independent College Counselor with over ten years experience in the college admission process as an Certified Illinois Teacher (Type 09) and Counselor (Type 73) while also a member of IECA and NACAC. For more information, you can visit his website at or email him at Follow him on Twitter @Tom_QuestCC or on Facebook at

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