Merit, FAFSA and Financial Aid Box on Common App

Can anyone tell me, if we are NOT applying for financial aid, but need to fill out the FAFSA per school request in order to receive merit aid (based solely on GPA/Test Scores), should S24 be checking the box on the Common App that says he is applying for financial aid? I am confused because we are not applying for aid, nor will we qualify, but some schools require FAFSA even of awarded merit aid. Not sure what to do and he wants to submit Common App to schools tomorrow.

1 Like

We were in that boat and clicked yes mainly because all the schools tell you to apply, you never know.

If you are worried that need aware schools will hold checking the box against you - no they won’t.

Some schools do app fee waivers if you do FAFSA.

Which school is this? The vast majority of schools don’t require filling out FAFSA for non need merit aid.

No he should not, unless you want to be considered for need based aid.

Sometimes you do know you’re not getting any :slight_smile:
In which case it’s perfectly ok to not check the box.

1 Like

All schools do not tell you to apply for aid.

There is no harm in checking the yes box for applying for aid. Your fafsa will make it clear that you don’t qualify for need based aid if you don’t

It’s ok not to. I didn’t say otherwise. I had an EFC of 6 figures. I knew I wasn’t getting any but since the schools say to…. It’s a choice and I agree you don’t have to. It’s not difficult and the time/money it cost we’re worth the chance to me.

I’m simply saying if you do, it won’t hurt you. Some feel it will but it’s not the case. They’ll just see the financials and won’t award any.

And yes few schools require FAFSA for merit although the list people give seems to change year to year. There’s old threads on the subject.

Most schools have some iteration of a line like this - I just looked up 3 random ones your experience may differ. Don’t doubt ours. When you are applying to schools you get many messages from the schools encouraging you to apply for aid.

All First-Year applicants, including domestic, international and undocumented students, are eligible and encouraged to apply for need-based financial aid.

Yes, I’ve seen a variation of this at most schools. But they write this because many students and their families don’t know it’s an option. Everyone can apply, of course, but for those who know for sure they wont get a dime, it’s a waste of time.

I don’t disagree - I was commenting back to the comment made to me.

Again, please read my original post.

I said - we chose to do it - and if you are worried it will put you in a bad position (like schools thinking you need money so they’ll reject you) - the answer is no.

I also noted some schools will give an app waiver. When we were applying, Chicago specifically sent my daughter a note stating as such and it wasn’t even on her list.

I never told OP they should or have to - and I also noted on your next note, yes it’s a choice - but if you make the choice, there won’t be harm.

Also - many schools write it (even those that don’t want to give money away) because as they often say, many who think they won’t earn money, do. Plus it’s the key to getting that $5500 first year loan. Hey, they’re employing financial aid people - so they gotta get work output for their dollars spent!! Some schools even show income tables - like the year my daughter got into W&L, they showed 88% of people in my income bracket got $38K on average. I was surprised at that # given my income bracket. Of course, we got nada!!

I’m sure OP has heard enough to decide the best for their family. But the main point was - do it or not and that’s fine - but if the concern was it will hurt you - it won’t.

We were in a similar position and didn’t click the box because we didn’t want to waste people’s time. We felt blessed and thought of it as bad karma.

We also did not check the box, but we were not applying to schools that required it for merit.

If we had, I would still have not checked the box, as we were not applying for financial aid, but rather checking the box to be considered for merit.


It would be helpful to know what schools you are talking about…there aren’t many that require FAFSA for merit aid.

Fordham does, but they award the merit initially even if the student hasn’t filed FAFSA. Then, if the student decides to matriculate at Fordham, they fill out FAFSA in the spring.

To directly answer the question, if you file FAFSA before the admission decision comes out, I would answer no, you are not applying for financial aid.

And with 2024-25 FAFSA not being released until December 1 at the earliest, many students won’t be filing FAFSA until after their rolling/ED/EA decisions come out.

Good luck.

1 Like

Thanks. I have to go back through his list now as I know we read it someplace on a couple of them and of course now I cannot find it. He is applying now so well before FAFSA even comes out. I think your explanation makes sense. We will do that. Thanks.

1 Like