Need FAFSA if only going for Merit aid?

We are almost certainly above range to qualify for need based aid. I look at merit aid as really just a “discount” off inflated “list” rate. For my daughter to complete for merit aid, do we still have to complete FISA forms?

What is “FISA”?

Sorry meant FAFSA.

Some schools require submission of FAFSA to be eligible for merit aid, and some do not. So, not particularly helpful, but “it depends.” Check the school’s financial aid web page, or ask the financial aid office.

You would probably need to look at school-specific/scholarship-specific/etc. sources of merit aid to determine which documentation they require.

Pretty much every school my S20 applied to asked for the FAFSA. Some were adamant. I did it reluctantly and in the end it was pretty much a useless exercise.

I have seen some posts on CC where parents did not complete the FAFSA and their financial circumstances changed while their kid was in school. When they applied for FA later it sound like there was grief. I’m not sure why it would matter but apparently for some parents it did.

On the flip side, all of the schools S19 applied to and got merit did not require FAFSA (Grinnell, Kenyon, Dickinson). So, I would definitely call each school.

We did not fill out FAFSA and none of the schools on her list required it for merit - both private and publics.

with our 3 kids; we’ve done it both ways. when kid#1 was in college, his EFC was above the cost of attendance. Didn’t fill out FAFSA; wasn’t required to. (state school).

the next year; kid #2 went to college (small LAC). she was required to fill out FAFSA. Her merit aid wasn’t need-based; however the school wanted to make sure all federal sources were used before giving out any extra grant aid. It was their policy.

for kid #3 we filled out the FAFSA, but it didnt help him any. I’m thinking next year he’ll qualify for a small subsidized loan when he’s the only one in college; so we’ll do it again next year.

A college offering a full ride scholarship may want the student to file FAFSA so that if the student gets any Pell grant money, it needs to give only as much as $(fullride - Pellgrant) instead of $full_ride

Contact the college(s). This policy about completing financial aid applications when applying for merit only varies by school.

Agree with the advice to contact schools directly. I reached out to one of the private LAC’s on D’s list asking this question, and they said while FAFSA isn’t required for merit aid, you can’t apply for aid in future years if you didn’t apply for the first year. Maybe they’d make an exception for a dramatic change in circumstances, but it might be worth hedging your bets.

You can ALWAYS fill out the FAFSA and get federal aid, even if you didn’t fill it out in previous years. The schools can decline to give you its own grants and aids in future years, but you can always get a Pell grant (if qualified) or a loan by filing the FAFSA.