Federal loans are financial aid, so technically, most everyone who completes a FAFSA qualifies for financial aid. In that case, they don’t have to pay sticker price. But they kind of do …
Here’s the thing: I was a financial aid director, and I refused to tell anyone that students don’t pay sticker price. It’s a way to spin it, but it’s not truthful. There are always people paying sticker price. If you make it seem like they won’t have to, it’s a problem, IMO. The idea is that you get them hooked on wanting to come, right?
Average is average. It means nothing to the individual. If you didn’t get need based aid, it means you are far better off than the vast majority of families. While it may seem like it’s unfair that you won’t get need based aid because you saved … the flip side is that you saved, and you can pay for college. Maybe not EVERY college, but certainly somewhere. That is an amazing thing, and you should be proud of that fact.
But getting some merit aid is always worth trying for!