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When To File FAFSA

whciv01whciv01 Registered User Posts: 236 Junior Member
edited August 2013 in Texas A&M University
We have a prospective fall 2014 student and wanted to double check when we should file our FAFSA. I understand that January is when it opens for fall 2014 students, is that correct? We are already applying for scholarships but several opportunities require a FAFSA. We have also heard that you should file a FAFSA even if you do not believe you qualify.
Post edited by whciv01 on

Replies to: When To File FAFSA

  • BostonCollege95BostonCollege95 Registered User Posts: 37 Junior Member
    You can't apply for the FASFA until January 1st. So those scholarships would have to have deadlines after that date.
  • AGmomx2AGmomx2 Registered User Posts: 1,272 Senior Member
    There should be an estimation form online by now. It will give you an EFC - you compare that to COA for the schools you're looking at to see if you would potentially qualify for 'need based'. Then fill out the FAFSA in January for the official copy to be sent to the schools by them.

    Personally, we get hammered by the formulas - but some people don't - it depends where your money is versus just the amount. If you fill out the estimation forms, you can then decide for yourself whether you need to file. Friends of ours never filed - his EFC was so high it only served as a paper trail for the govt. (it is tied to income tax forms). There is no advantage to file if your EFC is above COA. If a scholarship requires FAFSA it is usually need based, you either qualify or you don't.
  • SimpleLifeSimpleLife Registered User Posts: 2,370 Senior Member
    AGmomx2 wrote:
    There is no advantage to file if your EFC is above COA. If a scholarship requires FAFSA it is usually need based, you either qualify or you don't.

    I totally disagree. I WOULD agree with this statement, "If a scholarship is purely need-based and your EFC is above COA, then there is no advantage to filing the FAFSA." But, there are many scholarships and many schools that require a FAFSA merely to establish eligibility. They are NOT all need-based! For several of them, the actual number or EFC on the FAFSA is irrelevant. If the instructions for a scholarship application say that a student must file a FAFSA to be eligible for said scholarship, then that student must file a FAFSA, period, if that student wants to be eligible for that scholarship. Likewise, if a university's Financial Aid and/or Scholarship webpage says that a student must file a FAFSA to be eligible for scholarship consideration, then that student must file a FAFSA to be eligible for consideration. To NOT file is to forgo potential scholarship money!

    Like AGmomx2, for us, the FAFSA formulas don't typically dictate "need." In general, my kids haven't qualified for "need-based" aid other than unsubsidized federal loans in all the years they've applied. However, my kids have earned all sorts of very generous merit scholarships from schools and private organizations that required the mere FILING of a FAFSA. From what we could tell, the EFC didn't matter at all. I have always wondered, "Then why must the student file?" But, if the end result is that one is eligible for additional scholarships merely by filing an accurate assessment of income and assets, then I find the filing worth it. After all, if you're honest when filing your taxes, the IRS and government already have a "paper trail." What's to lose?

    In sum, I would answer your questions this way, OP. Yes, January 1, 2014 is the first day that your student is eligible to file the FAFSA. Before that date, you and your child can get your PINs, sign on to the FAFSA.gov website, read all the material, and begin to compile all the numbers before that date, but you can't submit the form until January 1, 2014 at the earliest. (You'll need good estimates and or completed returns for 2013 prior to submitting the FAFSA. You can submit the FAFSA based on estimates in January and then easily correct the FAFSA online after your 2013 returns are complete, if need be.)

    And yes, I agree that you should file the FAFSA even if you do not believe you qualify. My own kids have benefited greatly from doing just that.
  • AGmomx2AGmomx2 Registered User Posts: 1,272 Senior Member
    Glad to hear Simplelife that you have had success with FAFSA required scholarships. We had the opposite reaction, even though the scholarship was not a 'need based' designation we were told FAFSA numbers were used to determine if you would be considered -and quoted that ours were too high by the representative. I guess it just depends on what scholarship committees decide to use as criteria. Happy to hear as a non-qualifier that there is still hope for FAFSA required scholarships. The rep I talked to certainly implied 'FAFSA required' was code for need & we should have known we wouldn't be considered.
  • SimpleLifeSimpleLife Registered User Posts: 2,370 Senior Member
    ^I'm sorry to hear you haven't had the luck we've had with these things, AGmomx2. That's really too bad. My kids have had tremendous good fortune from several avenues, even though they've never qualified for strictly need-based aid (other than unsubsidized loans). We ALWAYS file the FAFSA, every year for every school and every scholarship. Naturally, the students still have to earn the scholarship based on their merits, but, in our case, need was often overlooked. I have wondered if the schools or scholarship committees are required to require the FAFSA because it is odd that they would require it but then overlook its results. Or maybe there's a cutoff point -- like an EFC of $36,000 won't earn a scholarship, but an EFC of $22,000 will, even if the COA is, say, $19,000. I'm not sure how it all works, but I recommend to everybody that they always file the FAFSA if they think their student has any chance at all of earning a scholarship. As long as you're honest on your taxes, there's really nothing to lose! Better luck in the future on those scholarships, AGmomx2! :)
  • whciv01whciv01 Registered User Posts: 236 Junior Member
    SimpleLife, where have you found the best scholarships? We applied for the TAMU scholarships via Apply Texas when we filed August 1st. With the exception of a few very small local scholarships, we are having a hard time finding others. My son is top 1%, 4.0 GPA with a 2030 SAT (first sitting) and captain of the varsity swim team. He missed National Merit by a few points, but we are still hopeful he will qualify for other merit scholarships.
  • SimpleLifeSimpleLife Registered User Posts: 2,370 Senior Member
    Hi, whciv01. A long answer coming your way! ...

    I'm not sure if you're asking which schools have provided the best scholarships to my kids, or if you're asking where my kids have found the best private scholarships, or if you're asking about TAMU's scholarships in particular.

    My kids have had very little luck with the huge private scholarships that one hears about -- like Kentucky Fried, Best Buy, etc. No luck at all with those.

    One of my kids did earn a very elite corporate scholarship and to this day we're not exactly sure how they got his name! We think that maybe this scholarship is somehow linked to his NMF status. Basically, this corporate scholarship group sent him an email in the fall of his senior year and asked him to apply. He did. Many months later, he was notified that he was one of 12-20 kids selected from across the world for the honor! That scholarship required the FAFSA, btw. But that's the only really large, private scholarship either of my kids ever got outside of those that were awarded through our local school district, through our town, or through a university system.

    So, we haven't had a lot of luck with the classically need-based, private scholarship route.

    On the other hand, my kids have had great luck with the other three routes -- local school system, local community, and the university system.

    Your son should be sure to check with his guidance counselor's office for a possible list of scholarships that are awarded through your district or town. I'm not sure if they'll have such a list, but if they don't, you might want to inquire within your school district’s office and/or your local town. That's one place to start. In my kids' case, there was a list in their counselor's office with all of the websites and/or addresses for applications, application deadlines, contact numbers, etc. My kids were very successful with this. THIS would be the time to start looking -- well, actually, in mid-to-late September, or so, as the back-to-school dust settles. As I recall, most of the deadlines for such scholarships in our area (generally awarded to high school seniors in the spring) fell between mid-November and early February. So, that covers the school district and local community.

    As for the scholarships that were awarded through the university system, my kids applied the same way your son just did. They applied EARLY. They applied THOROUGHLY. They complied with every single guideline listed on the admittance and scholarship applications, to include filing the FAFSA when required. In my TAMU son's day there was an optional Essay C that was required for scholarship consideration. Naturally, he wrote one. And he took his time writing it and editing it and re-editing it. Not sure if that Essay C still exists on the Apply Texas site. But there's probably something similar to it if not. As far as TAMU itself goes, that's ALL my son did to apply for scholarships. He applied for every applicable scholarship that he might come close to earning at every single school to which he applied, though. And he was awarded many. But for TAMU, his scholarships came to him based ONLY on his TAMU application through the Apply Texas site.

    With stats like your son's, he may well earn a few scholarships from various groups within TAMU's Scholarship program. Of course, I wouldn’t know, but I wouldn't be surprised ... particularly if his school is a large and competitive school (which would make his top 1% and 4.0 even more relevant; no offense intended at all, please! that just seems to be how these things often go). Even if his school is a smaller school, he may well still qualify for a handful of scholarships. Others here on CC with stats similar to his might be willing to tell you (probably through PM) how they fared with TAMU scholarships. That would give you a better idea of how your son might fare.

    Basically, there is no way around the awful wait. One must just WAIT until the spring to hear the final results – for admission, and for scholarships. It’s agonizing, I know! But there are no formulas I know about for admissions or for scholarships.

    TAMU, like many or most large schools, has TONS of scholarships to offer -- some from the university itself, some from separate departments within the university, some through private donors or endowments or memorials or groups who are looking to do some good for others. You might be surprised how many scholarships there are out there! Some are really large and some are not so large, but every little bit helps, AND it’s possible to get several that can be stacked. Those can really add up. Of course, large schools like TAMU also have TONS of entering students each year! So the available scholarships do spread thin. Not everybody gets one. It's hard to answer questions like yours because (a) I'm just a parent, just like you ... it's just that I happened to have a kid earlier than you did, lol, and (b) everything is so subjective -- just because something came together for one kid doesn't mean it would come together for another kid, even if it appears that all things are “equal.”

    I warn you, I am no expert! I really only know of my own kids' experiences, that of their close friends, and that of my close friends' kids. But I can attest to the fact that there are a large variety of scholarships available at most large universities. Top students in various arenas often get one, but on the other hand, we know plenty of kids with great academic stats – stats that were very close to my son’s academic stats, but who weren't NMF's – who got absolutely nothing from TAMU! So, I don't want to mislead anyone or give anybody false hope. I only want to encourage everybody to apply early, apply thoroughly, and file that FAFSA if it's required! :)

    All my best to your son, whciv01! I hope great things come his way! :)
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