NORFOLK, Va. - The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) opens up on Oct. 1.
It's how students apply for financial aid for college, but it turns out a large number of students aren't filling it out.
A recent report from Sallie Mae found only two-thirds of families submitted the FAFSA in AY 2020-2021.
That's the lowest number recorded since the company started its How America Pays for College report in 2008.
Not filling it out can have a big impact on how students pay for college.
"FAFSA is really the gateway to $150 billion in financial aid, and that includes scholarships, grants, work-study and even federal student loans," said Ashley Boucher, Dir. of Corporate Communications for Sallie Mae.
Here's what families and students need to know:
- FAFSA opens Oct. 1, 2021
- Apply early since federal financial aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis
- Each state and college has its own financial aid deadlines
- Applications need to be submitted every year
One of the reasons some families reported not filling out the form is because they don't believe they'll qualify for financial aid, but Boucher says for most people, that's not the case.
"That really couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, nearly all who apply are going to qualify for some sort of aid," said Boucher.
Sallie Mae has a new, free tool that can help cut down on the time it takes to apply.
"It's going to streamline the process," said Boucher, "It will even hide questions that aren't relevant to an applicant, nd it takes the filing down on average from about an hour if you're going to apply on the government's website, to about seven minutes."