75% of families are unaware that the FAFSA app opens in October, survey finds

The FAFSA application period opens in October for the following school year, but many families are unaware of the first-come, first-served financial aid timeline, according to a recent survey. (iStock)

According to a recent survey from Sallie Mae and Ipsos.

FAFSA gives billions of dollars in grants, scholarships and federal financial aid for higher education. Colleges and universities use the FAFSA app to determine need-based aid, much of which is distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

The application period for FAFSA opens annually on October 1 for the following school year. This was changed in 2016, when the start date was moved from January 1 to October, to give families more time to apply. But the “How America Pays for College 2022” survey says 75% of American families still don’t know they can apply as early as October. Additionally, only 54% of families know that all families are eligible to apply for help through FAFSA.

“The good news is that FAFSA completion rates appear to be holding up, although we would like to see those rates even higher,” Sallie Mae Vice President Rick Castellano said in a statement. “The lack of awareness of the opening date, however, and the continued confusion around eligibility are concerning.

“The reality is that almost every family is entitled to some form of assistance, so we need to continue to educate and let families know that completing the FAFSA can help make college more affordable, especially for families. who need support the most,” Castellano said.

If you still need money for college after finding out what federal aid you qualify for, you might consider applying for a private student loan. Visit Credible to find your personalized interest rate without affecting your credit score.

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Here’s what families spend on college

On average, families reported spending more than $25,000 a year on college expenses for the 2021-22 academic year, according to the Sallie Mae/Ipsos survey. Families also said they used their income and savings to cover about 54% of those college expenses.

About 73% of families used scholarships and grants to help pay for tuition, covering 26% of costs. And 41% of families borrowed money for college, helping them pay an average of 18% of fees. For those who borrowed money for school, the amount borrowed increased 7% from the previous school year to an average of $9,381.

If you are looking to borrow money for college after completing your FAFSA application, you may consider taking out a private student loan to cover the costs. Visit Credible to compare multiple student lenders at once and choose the one with the best interest rate for you.

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Americans assess college priorities

Families said they were willing to invest in college, believing it would create more opportunities for their students’ future, the survey found. About 78% said they were willing to stretch their finances in order to send their students to college. And about 89% of families said they had taken active steps to make college more affordable.

“Everyone went through a significant upheaval two years ago and as a result many people reassessed their priorities,” said Ipsos chief executive Jennifer Berg. “Students and their families prioritize the experiences and social aspects of college that they may feel they have missed out on. However, that does not mean they have deprioritized the academic aspect of college. university or their expected return on investment.”

About 73% of students said they took online courses, and 75% of them said they had a “good” or “excellent” online learning experience. However, most families still said they want their student back on campus for in-person classes at least once in a while.

If you are interested in taking out a private student loan to cover your college expenses, you can contact Credible to speak with a student loan expert and see if this is the right option for you.

Do you have a financial question, but you don’t know who to contact? Email the Credible Money Expert at [email protected] and your question might be answered by Credible in our Money Expert column.

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