Mapping Your Future: The top reasons why students don't apply for financial aid and why those reasons are so wrong


The top reasons why students don't apply for financial aid and why those reasons are so wrong

By Catherine Mueller

January 04, 2019

Students don't apply for financial aid because they think they won't need it to pay for college or they think they won't qualify.

Those were two of the top reasons that students participating in a National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) study cited when asked why they didn't complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

In the report issued last month, the NCES outlined some of the major findings from a longitudinal study. Students who participated in the study cited some of the following reasons for not completing a FAFSA:

  • 33 percent thought they could afford college without financial aid
  • 32 percent thought they would not be eligible for financial aid
  • 28 percent did not want to take on additional debt
  • 23 percent did have enough information about how to complete a FAFSA
  • 22 percent did not plan to continue education after high school
  • 15 percent did not know they could complete a FAFSA
  • 9 percent thought the forms were too much work or too time-consuming

However, even if a student thinks they don't need financial aid or won't qualify for need-based aid, they should still complete the FAFSA. State agencies or private foundations often used data from the FAFSA to award merit-based aid and scholarships. In addition, higher education institutions often use the data to award campus-based scholarships.

A FAFSA is also required if a student ever decides to borrow non-need based federal student loans. A student's financial circumstances can change, and it's better to have completed some of the paperwork in advance if student finds out they need to borrow money to complete their education.